Zac Efron tries to move some bodies in We Are Your Friends.

Zac Efron tries to move some bodies in We Are Your Friends.

Reel Reviews: Zac Efron spins a Millennial yarn

We are your Friends is not as terrible as everyone says, but Taylor and Howe are still hesitant to say it’s good.

  • Sep. 6, 2015 12:00 p.m.

Cole (Zac Efron) is a 23-year-old DJ trying to build a name for himself, one gig at a time.

His friends manage and promote him, but they can barely afford to pay the rent. Clubbing and partying, Cole and his friends live life perpetually high, taking a few moments in the morning to groan in the Californian sun.

Cole meets an older (but not really wiser) DJ named James (Wes Bentley) who takes him under his wing, trying to steer his music towards greatness, in between drinking and drugging. James has a beautiful assistant named Sophie (Emily Ratajkowski) who is half his age.

The rest is pretty self-explanatory.

We say, “It’s not as terrible as everyone says, but we’re still hesitant to say it’s good.”

TAYLOR: The children of Generation X are growing up. They call them Millennials. I happen to know two very well. My sons, both good boys, 20 and 23. Neither of them are into EDM (electronic dance music) per se, but they must have been to the ol’ disco a time or two, paid their nickels to see the dancing monkey show, pulled back the curtain to reveal the Wizard…Whatever the kids call it these days, the four dudes in this film go hard.

Now, before you squirrel an angry letter to the editor, Skrillex Jr., stay cool. I’m not saying EDM and drug culture go hand in hand, I’m saying that is the case in We Are Your Friends. A fee is always levied, in fiction, in life, in this predictable and immature film.

HOWE: It wasn’t great, but it wasn’t bad either. Based on the trailer, I wasn’t really looking forward to this. It looked like a film about a group of friends going out to clubs, drinking, partying and picking up women. Don’t get me wrong, it is all of these things, but there is a backstory to their lives, their dreams and how they struggle to make a living. There is a glimpse into the generation, the culture.

TAYLOR: I’ve read that some people are raving at how well Efron learned to DJ. I think they must have been referring to the twisting of the knob.

DJs don’t need me to make fun of their status as musicians, far funnier folks have bested their ilk. I don’t blame any DJ for earnestly hanging on to some knob or switch, head bobbing to the beat, waiting, earnestly excited for whatever will happen when he twists. It’s like a guitarist pulling faces, or a singer dancing, there is drama to be had, including in this film.

But this film fails because it’s shallow. Someone said, “Let’s make a movie about EDM culture and kids today.” They just fell short of making it very interesting or valuable.

HOWE: How do the people know he did a good job DJing? Were they at his gigs, or was it down to editing magic? He just twists knobs and a track is laid down over the top? I will give him this, it had to have been the best acting I have seen from him. He wasn’t a creepy pervert, like in The Lucky One, or came across cheesy as he did in Neighbors, and for that I congratulate him.

TAYLOR: I think Efron could be a serious actor, given the right opportunity.

– Howe gives We Are Your Friends 3 nail guns out of 5.

– Taylor gives it 2 scenes from Gone Girl out of 5.

– Brian Taylor and Peter Howe are Vernon-based film reviewers, whose column appears in the Morning Star every Friday and Sunday