There is nothing overly special about this film, as its main goal is to showcase the excellent electronic music.
We Are Your Friends explains a lot to the viewer. The first thing explained is where the San Fernando Valley is, the home of the "friends." It's made to seem like they are from the the "poor part of town" but mostly they are just all down on their luck, living with their parents or in questionable careers. This causes a lack of empathy that makes it hard to root for the friends, but ultimately the music helps to overcome the film's shortcomings.
Who Are Your Friends?
Plot - We are Your Friends Review
At the center of the story is Cole, an aspiring DJ, who has his friends' hope tied to him making it. Suffice it to say that Cole has the talent, but needs some mentorship and a "chance" to make it big. After playing a local show he meets a famous DJ who takes him under his wing. This mentor, strangely is not one of the friends mentioned in the title. In fact, the friendship between Cole and his friends is much less a part of the story and his drive (until the end) than is this chance encounter, and inevitably the love interest that accompanies it. This is probably the biggest let down for We Are Friends. By the end of the movie, there are a particular set of instances that really drive Cole to focus and create his "one track." One of them is a completely random occurrence that is so heavy-handed that it could have ruined the movie. Because of what this instance triggers though, the film redeems itself through its best asset, music.
The Music is My Friend - We Are Your Friends Review
EDM is not the same as techno this film will have you know, but EDM does sometimes carry a negative stigma. Even if you are not a fan of the genre, We Are Your Friends uses its soundtrack beautifully. There are three standout scenes, all revolving around the music. One particular scene explains the goal of EDM, to get the people dancing at 128 BPM, confidently voiced-over by star Zac Efron you can't help but tap your feet as it's explained. Another scene, again accompanied by a tremendous track, takes place in an art gallery as the paintings come alive, and finally the final performance is charged with emotion as the tune slowly builds. These are the best parts of We Are Your Friends and the only reason to really watch the film.
Not So Friendly
Several characters try and step up into the role of antagonist in the film, but one ends up being a hero, and one is just sleazy. While there is a nice redemption moment near the end, the fact that the "friends" didn't know something more sinister was afoot is laughable. This aspect is what is partly to blame for the broken screenplay. The only thing to work against Cole is himself and his friends, they are their own worst enemies. There really isn't a reason why they are struggling, and the answers they seek are all right in front of them but the catalyst to change is not. When the finally do change, its more of relief than that they've really changed. I suppose it's about being young, thinking you are on top of the world, then realizing you aren't doing anything you want to do. It's a common sentiment, but I'm not sure it makes for a movie.
Performance - We Are Your Friends Review
The actors, specifically Zac Efron and Wes Bentley do an excellent job in their roles as up and comer and mentor. As with most movies about musicians, there is some upselling of the EDM culture and the seriousness behind the music and the job, but embellishment is needed to make it interesting. Efron in particular has shed his Disney jacket and, even in a role that doesn't require too much, makes it his own and appears to have really taken direction from the real musicians who worked on the film. The direction, editing and Efron make the DJing scenes very enjoyable and are the standouts of the film.
We Are Your Friends Review Reflection
While We Are Your Friends does nothing to stand above any other coming of age story, it does differentiate itself with the score from a myriad of artists. Scenes are crafted with the music in mind, and not the other way around as seen in most traditional movies. It's not the music that adds to the film, it's the film trying to keep up with the music.