Sex, drugs, dance music, parties, girls and Zac Efron are the recipe for We Are Your Friends, a late-summer box office entry from Warner Bros that might find a hard time gaining traction (especially with a terrible title that is hard to remember) but is a likable-enough diversion before fall and more serious movies start bombarding us. As I say in my video review (click the link above), this film, thanks to Efron’s sincere performance and adeptness at convincing us he is a talented EDM DJ, could hit the target college-age audiences — girls particularly, at which this is clearly aimed.
Efron and his buddies (Shiloh Fernandez, Alex Shaffer and Jonny Weston) are party promoters out to make some bucks when Zac meets a thirtysomething DJ named James (Wes Bentley) who takes him under his wing and introduces him to the higher end of the EDM business. Complications arise as Efron is attracted to a girl who inadvertently turns out to be James’ girlfriend (Emily Ratajkowski), and the film takes on some darker edges along the way. There is also a subplot with the guys, needing money wherever they can find it, getting involved in a get-rich-quick scheme from a crooked real estate magnate (Jon Bernthal) who trains them in his business of preying on people who are about to have their homes foreclosed. But as we travel down the path where all this questionable new lifestyle leads Efron’s character, it is really the driving beat of the music that gets us there.
Efron is quite good and believable and the best sequence in the film has him showing the passion and the process of creating this unique form of music. Director Max Joseph uses lots of graphic devices including animation (during a drug trip where paintings seem to come alive) and fancy visual tricks to keep the audience engaged. The actors working with Efron are also nicely cast, and you learn to care about their fates in this fast-paced 95-minute drama.
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The screenplay is by Joseph and Meaghan Oppenheimer with a story by Richard Silverman. Producers are Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner and Liza Chasin of Working Title. Warner Bros is the domestic distributor in this pickup from Studio Canal.
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