Hot Take: A mirror image of Electronic Dance Music, if you can’t tolerate EDM, you probably won’t tolerate #WAYF. If you can, We Are Your Friends might win you over.
Give We Are Your Friends credit for its’ ability to mimic the style of EDM with its pace, timing and sampling. Or maybe not. Because sometimes it feels as if this was as accidental as DJ Cole Carter’s epiphanies on his way to finding his “voice” (does one have a voice in EDM?) in the world of EDM.
(I make every effort here to not provide spoilers but if you didn’t get from the trailer, the casting and, well, the way stories are generally told in Hollywood then me telling you it all comes together for DJ Cole Carter, played by Zac Efron, in the end might be a stunning revelation… even though it shouldn’t.)
The film’s writer/director Max Joseph, in his first big screen effort, seemingly rips pieces of other movies and drops them strategically throughout this 96 minute long form music video. The movie has little first hand feel but is an adequate second hand telling of other’s experience.
Musically, We Are Your Friends is likely to offend the “true” DJ as it paints EDM as a shallow, derivative and unoriginal way to party, pop molly and meet chicks while masquerading as an art form and, at the same time, offend the music snob who dismisses EDM as a lazy, shallow derivative and unoriginal art form because the film finds a way to provide a little bit of depth (even if it is only an increase from one to two dimensions) to the life of a DJ.
In the end, this is a niche film akin to Cocktail or Hackers which will draw some strong overreactions from those who enjoy it and those who don’t. However, We Are Your Friends falls somewhere in the middle. It’s fatal flaw is it’s obsession with self-promotion and marketing. But, even then, isn’t that just another mirroring of the subject matter?
Actually, We Are Your Friends reviews itself as DJ Cole Carter’s mentor James Read (played by Wes Bentley) critiques Carter’s work early on in WAYF and it describes Joseph’s work as well:
Joseph really knows how to work a crowd in Friends which should instantly win the audience that wants to be there. However, for the more discerning viewer, Joseph comes across as an admirer and an imitator with references so transparent they were from the subconscious if they were accidental (Boiler Room, Waking Life, Spring Breakers, Saturday Night Fever to name just a few). And Emerson said “Imitation is suicide.” Right, Mr. Joseph?
“Spoiler Free” Pros
- If You Buy Into the Movie, the Climax Pays Off
I found myself buying into We Are Your Friends and really enjoyed the movie’s final act.
- Zac Efron and Emily Ratajkowski Are Eye Candy
Efron and Ratajkowski are stunning to the point you find it hard to believe each and every frame containing one or both wasn’t airbrushed.
- The Soundtrack
EDM is not everyone’s cup of tea (heck, it’s not always mine but I don’t hate it) but this film wears the soundtrack well.
“Spoiler Free” Cons
- Boys Rule (And That’s Not A Good Thing)
The female characters are weak in WAYF. There really are only two female characters with any sort of storyline and both are basically damsels in distress.
- Drugs and Booze Are Awesome?
Unless they kill you, drugs and alcohol do absolutely no harm to you other than making you a little bit intolerable. Very early on in the movie, Efron smokes some PCP-laced weed and, post trip, wakes up with a little headache and barely a hair out of place.
- The Stinger Is Infuriating
The post-credit scene made my blood boil. In an effort to respect the “spoiler free” zone, we’ll leave it at that.