“We Are Your Friends” brings every Los Angeles cliche to the screen and manages to take itself seriously and poke fun at the same time. Zac Efron is wannabe EDM DJ, Cole, who is booking shows that pays him in free drinks, when he really wants to travel the world like his idol James Reed (Wes Bentley). Cole and his buddies spend their days roofing houses and eating sushi in the Valley as they wait around for the next club night. It’s the rinse and repeat of a week that most 20-somethings take part of, as that is the culture of being young.
Cole’s friend, Ollie (Shiloh Fernandez) hooks the crew up with his shady businessman friend who preys on homeowners facing foreclosure and flips houses for the cost of his soul. Eh, at least it pays a whole lot more than a free rum and coke. Movie-in-one-sentence: The friends want to make it out of the Valley and move on to bigger things. Cole gets the opportunity when he meets washed-up, drunken DJ extraordinaire James and becomes guided under his mentorship. Meanwhile, Cole falls for James’ girlfriend/assistant Sophie (Emily Ratajkowski) and of course, that’s when bad turns to worse.
The way the movie is shot keeps it interesting and moving along. It tells a little bit of the story about how a DJ gets his signature, how they learn to work the crowd. In some instances it plays like an extra long music video. In others, it’s a blend of Instagram footage from Coachella. Just your average festival kids enjoying the good life.
There are moments that dive deeper into what it’s like to be all talk and no action and what can happen when the opportunity for action arises. However, there are also classic moments where characters utter lines like, “Don’t bro me unless you know me.” This could be written off as horrible writing if it wasn’t something that could easily be overheard walking down the boardwalk or standing in line for a club.
The story vibed along with the steady thump of each new beat, which turns out to be an asset when the main premise of a story is to wake up, hang with friends, party and do it all again the next day. Zac Efron has an alluring on screen presence and unfortunately, has yet to be cast in a role that catapults him to the level which he needs to be. He buzzes along in mediocre films, but remains underrated as an actor. Hopefully, not for long.
Ultimately, “We Are Your Friends” is about life in the Valley, living on the verge of the next big break or a lifetime of recycled stories.