The idea that Electronic Dance Music (EDM) is just the new disco or rock or jazz is an argument best suited for parents and their rebellious children. With that said, “We Are Your Friends” presents itself as ahead of the curve when really it’s disorganized and timid.
“We Are You Friends” is about Cole (Zac Efron), an aspiring DJ. Cole is spotted DJ-ing a party by James (Wes Bentley), who recognizes Cole’s “talent” and becomes his mentor. Soon, Cole is isolated from his friends and begins to lose sight of what being a DJ is all about. If that isn’t enough cheese-covered trope for you, there’s also a love triangle between Cole, James and James’s girlfriend, Sophie (Emily Ratajkowski).
If this plot sounds familiar, that’s because it is. “We Are Your Friends” is a standard rags-to-riches story told in the present day. The hedonistic nature of our generation mixed with the “wild” lifestyle of a DJ reminds me of Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Boogie Nights.” However, “Boogie Nights” looked upon the rise and fall of porn giant (no pun intended) Dirk Diggler as a sad tragedy, which it is. Director Max Joseph looks at the plight and strife of Cole the same way, with the only problem being that they all seem to come across as first-world problems.
The cast of “We Are Your Friends” was filled with talent that couldn’t be put to any good use, kind of like Efron, who is no doubt a good actor but hasn’t found the right project to showcase his talents. I know he’s a good actor because I’ve seen him in “Me and Orson Welles” where he was outstanding. Maybe his looks are what’s holding him back. Bentley is also a good actor with performances in “American Beauty” and “The Four Feathers” coming to mind. Perhaps he just needed the cash.
One of the movie’s many weaknesses is that each scene plays out as being “the best scene you’ll ever see.” With expectations that high, the entire film comes off as bland and, at times, self-entitled. Maybe EDM is the new rock ‘n’ roll, but the difference between the two is that the latter earned its dues, while the former has yet to do so. Hey, this is a perfect movie for our generation.
In theaters right now are two movies about music and the passionate practitioners of it. The first is “Straight Outta Compton,” an excellent film with social commentary. The second is “We Are Your Friends.” I really hope that they know that I’m not their friend.