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Review: We Are Your Friends

Emily Ratajkowski, Wes Bentley and Zac Efron star in Warner Bros. Pictures' WE ARE YOUR FRIENDS

Hollywood is an enticing place in the eyes of many. It’s where plenty of people flock in order to make it big in entertainment. Some do succeed, but it’s not usually without hard work and dedication. In We Are Your Friends, audiences are introduced to a young man with those same hopes and a work ethic that could help him get to where he wants to go if the choices in his personal life don’t get in the way.

The young man is Cole (Zac Efron), a 23 year-old trying to find his place in the music world. While he spends his days trying to find ways to make money, he spends his nights doing what he can to craft a career that will see him become a top DJ. At this point, he looks to be moving in the right direction musically when he meets James (Wes Bentley), an older DJ with plenty of accomplishments. Working with the veteran could get Cole where he needs to be, but not being able to stay away from James’ alluring girlfriend (Emily Ratjkowski) may disrupt things.

In conventional fashion, audiences will be introduced to the characters in We Are Your Friends along with the world that they belong to. These facets of the film may be interesting to some people since we’re talking about a story centered around a DJ in the fast pace environment of Hollywood. What’s left after that is the story that needs to be developed. I spent a decent amount of time waiting for that portion of the movie to show up and make us care about the people involved, but that isn’t anywhere to be found.

Instead of getting anything close to that, we get Cole and the rest of the cast in We Are Your Friends not really doing a whole lot. Once the groundwork is laid down for us, we’re asked to watch these guys live lives that aren’t very interesting and don’t appear to have much direction. It starts off showing what these guys do in terms of jobs, but half way through the movie, we’re still pretty much watching them doing what they were already doing at the start.

It’s clear that the creators had a concept of a film, but they obviously didn’t have much of a plan in telling an actual story. With that being the case, it’s safe to say that a plan to develop what’s seen in here wasn’t viewed as a necessary aspect of the movie ahead of time. A movie about a DJ in that world could be cool, but it needs to be done better than this.

The only great part of We Are Your Friends is getting the chance to gawk at Emily Ratajkowski for a good bit. I’m not shocking anyone when I point out that she’s absolutely attractive or anything. She doesn’t do much here either, but I guess she’s there to represent some kind of source of conflict that could arise. I want to say that it would have been nice to see her do more, but that’s my feeling about the entire movie.

When thinking about it, I don’t know if it’s smart to be putting Zac Efron in anymore lead roles. His movies don’t usually do too well, plus he offers very little in terms of charisma, personality or depth as an actor. I understand that some people of the opposite sex may think he’s attractive, but that’s not a good enough reason to keep putting him in these positions. That’s especially true when looking at his box office numbers. He’s not exactly breaking records.

From a purely cinematic perspective, he’s also one of the primary reasons why a movie like this would most likely fail even if it has a legitimate story to tell. He almost never shows any range as an actor, so it’s hard to really build a movie where he’s in virtually every scene. The only thing I can say I saw where he does give us something is in 2012’s Liberal Arts. If he allows himself to be featured in more roles like that, I think he’d have a better career.

Then again, the people behind these movies keep giving him roles where he is essentially playing the same character over and over again. Maybe this is something that he wants. There isn’t a ton of stuff that is needed, and he doesn’t have to improve or go out of his comfort zone. If that’s the plan for him and the studios, it’s obvious that we’ll continue to get these kinds of movies from him. They keep giving him the same roles, he gets paid and they all get to go home happy. Unfortunately, not too many people who pay to see We Are Your Friends will.

Anyway, We Are Your Friends could have benefited from focusing on the relationships at play as well as actually attempting to create some type of friction throughout the film. There are a few things in here that lend themselves to both of those things, but they wrap them up easily, clearly and almost effortlessly. This makes everything seem as if there’s nothing at stake for the people involved. Giving these guys consequences for their actions could have driven the drama while giving us a reason to become invested in anything aside from music or someone’s physical attractiveness.

Rating: R

Director: Max Joseph

Cast:
Zac Efron
Wes Bentley
Emily Ratajkowski
Jon Berthnal
Jonny Weston
Shiloh Fernandez
Alex Shaffer

Film Length: 96 minutes

Release Date: August 28, 2015

Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures

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