Zac Efron stars in the glamorous new buddy-flick-turned-forbidden-romance, We Are Your Friends. Directed by Catfish’s Max Joseph – his first feature length film – this DJ tale, also featuring Wes Bentley, Emily Ratajkowski and Jon Bernthal, is set to the backdrop of the Los Angeles music scene.
Hotshot DJ Cole (Efron) and his merry band of layabouts, Mason (Jonny Weston), Ollie (Shiloh Fernandez) and Squirrel (Alex Shaffer), are awaiting their big break. Working the club Cole plays in each Thursday night, the gang make a few easy bucks – yet it’s not enough for them to leave the outskirts of LA and head for the big time.
While all four manage to land a job with real estate mega-bucks, Paige (Bernthal), to make some extra cash, Cole breaks away to chase his dream of becoming a famous disk jockey with the help of his new mentor, James (Bentley). James – a well-travelled DJ with an eye for the bottle – helps his young prodigy build his own unique sound ahead of his ‘big break’ at Summerfest. Yet the aspiring talent’s eyes are quickly distracted by James’ Assistant/girlfriend, Sophie (Ratajkowski), who comes between the pair.
At its core, We Are Your Friends is your typical buddy film glossed over with beautiful people and gorgeous LA sunsets. It’s four lads – all with their own particular set of skills – looking to solve that age-old adage of ‘finding themselves’. Here we find Efron – the talented one – who breaks away from his pack of drug-dealing, crap-nicknamed, womanising pals and looks to make a name for himself the only way he knows how: spinning decks.
It looks and sounds the part, yet beyond the sun, sex and raves is a flimsy story; switching haphazardly between a half-baked romance, a not-so-inspirational mentor/mentee bonding session and the BFF-coming-of-age saga, it all gets lost among the glitz, glam and cannabis smoke.
There’s a lack of conviction between all of these ideas, as we ascend into a silly world of Efron doing his best Will Smith in Focus impersonation as he psychs-the-shit out of his DJ set (“Get them out of their bodies!”) and a narcotics-induced scene which felt particularly reminiscent of A-ha’s classic Take on Me video.
It’s a shame that Joseph’s efforts are overawed by its pretty looking aesthetics as some of its substance – particularly surrounding the Cole-James, teacher-pupil relationship – has legs. The shots of LA’s sexy lifestyle might keep you going, but this musically-laced spectacle is a raving bore.