Thursday, 27 August 2015

Film Review: We Are Your Friends



If just the sound of ingredients like EDM, Zac Efron and valley girls makes your skin crawl, then We Are Your Friends probably isn't for you. But give it a chance at you may find that this film is better than you first thought.

Max Joseph's film is so self-aware about its own audience and target market that I'm surprised the title doesn't include a hashtag and an emoji. In this movie, Efron plays Cole Carter, an aspiring DJ (the chosen career of anyone who's anyone in Gen-Y dont'cha know) who just happens to live on the wrong side of the Hollywood Hills. Facing an uphill battle to get himself noticed, Cole is DJ'ing on Thursday nights at a grubby bar in the San Fernando Valley when he meets world-renowned DJ James Reed (Wes Bentley) and his girlfriend/PA Sophie (Emily Ratajkowski).

After impressing them with one of his tracks, the trio work together to hone Cole's craft; the only problem is, his new direction in life is tearing him away from his close-knit friendship group, Mason (Jonny Weston), Ollie (Shiloh Fernandez) and Squirrel (Alex Shaffer).

If you're old enough to remember a time when the most common suffix that came after hash was brown and not tag, We Are Your Friends is likely to annoy or frustrate you. Don't make any mistake before signing on; this is a film aimed squarely at Gen-Y, a film full of sex, drugs and Macbooks where the characters occupy every waking moment with selfies and Snapchat.

It's the kind of film that has a character called Squirrel, and doesn't offer any explanation for why. It's the kind of film where the most romantic moment is a hazy drug-fuelled fuck in Las Vegas hotel room, and where cheating on your boyfriend is totally cool because he's also cheating on you. It's the kind of film that inexplicably throws Vine celebrities into a walk-on cameo just to appear cool and down with the kids. 90% of the time, all these ingredients work in tandem to create a polished product that millennials with pocket money will lap up at the theatre with their #squad this weekend (when they're not distracted by their phones that is).

A lot of this appeal can be attributed to the cool cast; Efron suits the role of aspiring DJ well, complete with manscaped physique, gelled-hair and expensive headphones. His performance is pretty good as well, especially when the film gets to the grittier, more serious final third. Where the film suffers is in the drippy middle section where Efron is tasked with courting Emily Ratajkowski's impossibly gorgeous but also awkwardly wooden, Sophie.

Don't get me wrong, she's not a poor actress; her role opposite Ben Affleck in Gone Girl proved that.  In We Are Your Friends she's handed this thinly-written role that only has enough reach to include 'eye-candy' and 'cliched love triangle'. The chemistry with Efron feels a little forced at times, and she has this constant pouty expression on her face that would normally come accompanied by a loud wind and tumbleweed in a comedy or animation. It's like her face is made of old plasticine that's been left out to dry in the sun.

Wes Bentley is really great as the established DJ who Efron comes into conflict with; washed up and recycling his old material night after night, James Reed essentially embodies the nasty and horrible older generation in this film that the target audience are conditioned to despise. Rather than being a role model, Bentley's character is used as a cautionary tale for Efron's much younger, cooler and smarter (naturally) character to learn from and avoid.

The effervescent soundtrack is bursting at the seams with dreamy California sun-drenched pop and dance tracks from artists I'm clearly too old to have heard of like Hook N Sling, The Americanos and Will Sparks. The original track from Justice and Simian that formed the backbone of the trailers is used heavily in the film also.

The Verdict: 6/10


Hampered by a cliched coming-of-age script, We Are Your Friends makes amends by mixing together a cool cast, soundtrack and directorial style which will appeal to the YouTube generation #goals #summer #hashtag

We Are Your Friends is in cinemas from today.

6 comments:

  1. I've been curious about this movie; I see a lot of promotional material for it (oddly, except for the trailer) and thought it might be good. However, reading your review, I can say that this movie is unfortunately not for me. Great review though!

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    1. Thanks! I think the audience is going to be very niche, so I'm not surprised you're hesitant in seeing it. Thanks for commenting.

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  2. Nice review. I'm going to skip this one, it just never seemed to catch my interest. And now that I know Shiloh Fernandez is in it, I want to see it less. That guy is awful.

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    1. Thanks Brittani! :) His name rings a bell but I can't immediately think of anything else he's been in. Thanks for commenting!

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  3. I'm on the fence. I'll probably see this because it looks like fun, but I'm not expecting anything great. Nice review.

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    1. Give it a shot and see what you think - it might surprise you :) Thanks for the feedback Fisti!

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