'We Are Your Friends' Doesn't Make Clubbing Look Fun [Movie Review]

NOTE: This article is a contribution and do not necessarily represent the views of Player One.
Zac Efron as Cole in WE ARE YOUR FRIENDS.
Zac Efron as Cole in WE ARE YOUR FRIENDS. Warner Bros. Pictures

We Are Your Friends won’t be making any new converts to EDM music. For one, the soundtrack for this DJ coming of age movie is curiously lacking in energy — volume was CRANKED in my theater and I still felt like Hannibal Lecter through this thing (“His pulse never got above 85”). But the larger problem is that We Are Your Friends is just canny enough to know that EDM is all about glorification of the sensuous surface, but not quite sensuous enough to enfold the viewer in its fantasy.

But it does try.

We Are Your Friends Trailer

Zac Efron, as Cole, is part of a San Fernando Valley crew, desperate to make it in a city more glamorous than their lower-middle class lives. There’s Cole the DJ, Mason the manager (Jonny Weston), Ollie the actor (Shiloh Fernandez), and Squirrel the vague nerd who might want to start Instagram 2 or something and is developed exactly enough for a cynical and obnoxious dramatic turn.

Together they rep clubs, sell drugs, work for a real estate swindling Jon Bernthal, and put a lot of collective effort into making Cole’s dream come true.

The parameters from here are as stock as you can get, right down to the moment where Cole has alienated both his mentor and his friends and must reach deep down inside himself to find what’s grown there over the previous 60 or so minutes.

All of We Are Your Friends would be damned to ruin if it weren’t for the creative efforts of director Max Joseph, who peps stuff up with silly CGI cutaways to human heartbeats, stock footage, t-shirt titling, and one full-blown animation sequence that’s a little too grounded to achieve psychedelic flight but is at least a full-blown animation sequence. Joseph does a lot to make We Are Your Friends move, but it’s never enough to go the full Enter The Void credits this movie needs:

Perhaps part of what’s missing is the nerdy component of EDM fandom, or whatever makes you the kind of obsessive little beat rat who will sit over knobs on a computer screen and tweak for hours whatever it is that gets tweaked. Cole and his friends are unrepentantly bro-y, and that’s okay (Really! They’re all exactly as obnoxious as they probably should be for this kind of movie), but We Are Your Friends seems a little too cautious to give them the idiosyncracies that make real people — and especially real artists — interesting.

Which is ultimately the problem with We Are Your Friends: it never makes a good case for why these people or their dreams should matter to us.

A small part of We Are Your Friends is set in Las Vegas. Empowered with molly, Cole and We Are Your Friends love interest Sophie (Emily Ratajkowski doing a good turn in the unenviable “alluring girlfriend of my beloved mentor” role) dash through casino floors, do handstands in ferris wheels, and put a luxury suite on a credit card for dancing and sex. Not only is it a rousing endorsement of drugs, but it also makes you forget for a moment that Las Vegas is a hot strip of asphalt packed with people from your high school on bachelor/ette parties. It’s fun and fun to watch and noisy and jostling like the rest of We Are Your Friends needed to be. But while We Are Your Friends briefly made me believe in Vegas, believing in what happens when Cole spins Thursday nights at their pivotal club, Social, was impossible.

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