“We Are Your Friends” is as clunky of a film as the nonsense title might suggest.
This is a movie that is an exercise in Adobe After Effects run amok. We get a barrage of montages, animation and words sprawled across the screen, which is more gratuitous than effective. “We Are You Friends” offers some flashy scenes but for the first two acts, especially, it is about spectacle. The lights, the music, the picturesque Los Angeles scenery can only enthrall you so much.
As distracting and obnoxious as “We Are Your Friends” can be, the film’s main issue is its flat narrative. As we watch Cole (Zac Efron), an aspiring DJ, play the club scene, nothing ever feels at stake. Cole is talented, if never totally ambitious, and it is hard to invest ourselves in his life or success as a DJ when his enthusiasm is barely-there. Efron is serviceable as Cole but writers Max Joseph (who also directs) and Meaghan Oppenheimer didn’t write a very compelling character.
Cole navigates the streets and clubs of Los Angeles with his friends, Mason (Johnny Weston), Ollie (Shiloh Fernandez) and Squirrel (Alex Shaffer). Mason is Cole’s de facto manager, lining up and negotiating his gigs. Ollie and Squirrel are a little more distant from the group, trying to accomplish their own dreams and goals but help promote at the clubs Cole spins at.
One night at a club, Cole meets James (Wes Bently), a one-time popular DJ whose star might be fading. Cole gloms onto James and begins spending more time with him and his girlfriend, Sophie (Emily Ratajkowski), hoping that he can learn from James and it can lead to bigger gigs. James is a bit of a lose canon, as Cole will find out, and maybe not the right person for him to take career advice from.
Most of “We Are Your Friends” plays like an episode of “Entourage” set in the EDM world. Actually, strip a classic episode of “Entourage” of its jokes and playful patter and you have “We Are Your Friends”. Moments of the film do pop and the music can be infectious but the narrative is so distant, if ever fully realized, for a 96-minute film. Different plot elements are slapped in, like Cole and his friends working for a shady real estate guy (Jon Bernthal). Most jarring is a dark, shoehorned twist the final act takes. Instead of presenting compelling drama, it feels like a last minute attempt to add tension among the quartet.
“We Are Your Friends” is an instantly forgettable film and much like the club scene it depicts in the movie – fun for a bit but tiring for the rest of the night, where you stand around just waiting for it to end.
‘We Are Your Friends’ rates 4 out of 10