We Are Your Friends stars Zac Efron as 23 year old Cole Carter, an aspiring DJ who along with his three best buds dreams of escaping his small time San Fernando Valley roots and making it big in the LA club scene.
The four friends – Cole, Mason, Ollie and Squirrel – work at a local nightclub every Thursday night where they struggle to make a name for themselves. After doing his thing on the decks in a low-key set, Cole bumps into James Reed (Wes Bentley), a superstar DJ who is slowly losing his touch. James and Cole quickly strike up a friendship as the experienced older DJ takes the younger naïve one under his wing.
Things soon get complicated and (as the youth of today say) totes awks when Cole starts to fall for his mentor’s hot girlfriend/personal assistant Sophie (Emily Ratowski).
Now I know what you’re thinking after reading the first seven words of this review- “We Are Your Friends stars Zac Efron” – as I thought the exact same thing just before I sat down to watch the film: a film starring the guy from High School Musical is probably going to be a cheese-fest designed to take the money and the hearts of teenage girls.
In actual fact WAYF is surprisingly low on cheese and high on drama as it is a relatively adult and authentic take on the classic coming of age tale. The film manages to partially portray some of the entirely relatable themes of youthful fun, uncertainty and ignorance in a reasonably realistic fashion.
Themes such as having a good time with your friends, not knowing what you really want to do with your life and thinking you everything should strike a chord with many viewers in their late teens/early twenties. These parts of growing up are expressed through working-class Cole and his friends seeking desperately to escape the mundanity of their lives through clubbing as they find themselves stuck in soulless mortgaging jobs.
WAYF isn’t all young adult angst as it is at time lots of fun. There’s an engrossing scene where Cole explains the science behind DJ-ing which involves matching a track’s beats-per-minute to the rhythm of the crowd’s heart beats. Once a DJ achieves this, he says, they have the crowd at optimum raving level.
The film effectively conveys this sense of dancefloor delight as in the party/concert scenes you feel like one the partygoers having a whale of a time. These scenes are filled with (from what I’m told of, course) all the things which makes a great night out: girls, booze, drugs and thumping music, all which make you want to jump into the screen and join in on the intoxicating action.
While WAYF is often exhilarating, it is also quite predictable as its clichéd narrative offers storylines you’ve seen many times before. You often feel like you already know what’s going to happen way before it happens and those hoping to see something new and original may be disappointed.
Remember when I said the film wasn’t as cheesy as you’d expect? Well, don’t get me wrong, it still packs some corniness as some of the dialogue will make you laugh at the script not with it. The hot-headed motor-mouthed Mason says one of the most painfully cringey lines you’ll ever hear – “Don’t bro me unless you know me,” – when a stranger makes the seemingly unforgivable mistake of calling him “bro”.
For some the film may play out as one very long music video, although it’s nowhere near as guilty as 2012’s Springbreakers.
The cast do help to ground the film though as the Efron puts in a solid performance as Cole which makes WAYF surprisingly watchable.
Ratajkowski (who you may recognise from Gone Girl and boys will certainly remember from Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines video) proves she’s not just a pretty face as she plays the love interest Sophie quite well.
The stand out performance of the film definitely comes from Bentley though as his cynical hard-drinking James steals almost every scene he’s in.
The chemistry between all three of the leads is also quite strong.
Despite some of its cheesiness, first time director Max Joseph (who was the main cameraman for the TV show Catfish) layers WAYF with reality along with a few sprinklings of excitement which makes the cheese worthwhile. Kind of like a pizza. The film is probably not for everyone and will speak more to 15 – 25 year olds who enjoy going out. Watching it’s not going to change your life, but if you can relate to its young adult characters, there’s a fair chance you’ll have good time like they do. WAYF scores a: