We Are Your Friends **1/2

This tribal song for the young, aimless and angsty will especially appeal to Efron and electronic music fans. 

Is it worth $10? Yes

Zac Efron is at a tenuous, potentially make-or-break point of his career. No longer a teen sensation but still a heartthrob at 27 years old, it’s imperative that he starts moving on to adult-oriented roles so he can gradually transition to the next phase of his career. If he doesn’t do this, there will not be a next phase of his career.

In “We Are Your Friends” Efron plays Cole, an aspiring DJ who never went to college, sleeps in his friend’s pool house and plays small-time gigs for little money. It’s a smart “transition to adulthood” character for Efron to take on. The almighty box office will ultimately determine his long-term viability, but he’s solid here as a lost soul trying to make his way in a world that isn’t accepting him with open arms.

In addition to hanging out and partying too much with friends Mason (Jonny Weston), Ollie (Shiloh Fernandez) and Squirrel (Alex Shaffer), Cole works for a shady real estate investor (Jon Bernthal) by day and takes every electronic music DJ gig he can get. He’s your typical struggling artist looking for his voice, and to the credit of co-writer and director Max Joseph (“Catfish: The TV Show”), we don’t often see (or even think about) DJs struggling to make their mark.

Then, as always happens in movies but only sometimes happens in real life, an opportunity is presented: Legendary DJ James Reed (Wes Bentley) takes Cole under his wing and serves as a mentor. Cole is discouraged from remixing what’s already out there, and encouraged to try to find a new sound that will provide the “one track” he needs to separate himself above his competition. Artistically and professionally for Cole, this is a total win. Personally though, it’s a disaster because he develops feelings for James’ girlfriend Sophie (Emily Ratajkowski).

The story plays out in relatively predictable ways in spite of one big surprise, but it does have a few winning sequences: The Las Vegas scenes nicely show the exuberance of youth and infatuation, the finale works in a head-bobbing, blood-pumping up-tempo way, and Cole is on PCP at the first party he attends with James, leading to paintings coming alive via animation. It’s a creative way to show he’s tripping; the animation is crude, but that’s part of the charm.

Free Song Download with 'We Are Your Friends' Movie Tickets
The most interesting scene of all, however, comes when Cole is asked to DJ a party for James and we get inside Cole’s head as voiceover narration and peppy visuals articulate the science behind getting people dancing. It provides insight the layperson would never otherwise realize, and as such is inherently fascinating. No doubt dwelling on the finer points of the art of DJing could’ve gotten tiresome, but just this glimpse makes us thirsty for more of the same. Alas, it never comes.  

“We Are Your Friends” is unique in that there’s nothing special about it for you to run off to see, yet at the same time it’s not all that bad either. So a qualified recommendation: If you’re young, ambitious and in search of yourself, and/or enjoy electronic music, give it a shot. If not, pass – you won’t miss much.

Did you know?
Ratajkowski was one of the topless models in Robin Thicke’s infamous “Blurred Lines” music video in 2013.

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