HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: We Are Your Friends
HTS Overall Score:65
“We Are Your Friends” kind of slid under most people’s radars over the summer, barely taking in $1.7 million dollars across 2300 screens. Zac Efron hasn’t been a big name since the “High School Musical” films, but the boy has some talent and has made some fun cameo and supporting role films over the last 5 or 6 years. Missing the Blu-ray band wagon, Warner Brothers has released “We Are Your Friends” straight onto DVD where I feel it will still slip under the radar. Coming of age, growing up movies are a classic genre, but director Max Joseph keeps the film as dry and humorless as can be, making the film a bit tough to swallow at times. I enjoyed the first act of the movie, but as the film got more and more serious it lost its appeal and I started to slowly dip away from the actor’s struggles. Something I fear the general public will find as well.
Cole Carter (Zac Efron) is struggling to make it as a wannabe DJ. He works at whatever he can on the side, playing cheap clubs for a pittance on Thursday nights. His buddies, Mason (Johnny Weston), Ollie (Shiloh Fernandez) and Squirrel (Alex Shaffer) are all along for the ride, duking it out in sunny Hollywood trying to make something of themselves. None of the boys really are that educated, or are that likeable, but they still have a dream of becoming someone someday. Cole desperately works at being a DJ, Ollie is a pill popper who’s making side money with his habit, and Mason is the brash and aggressive one with a desire to be Cole’s manager. Things change for the boys when Cole runs into one of the most famous DJ’s in the valley, James (Wes Bentley), who takes Cole in under his wing and mentors the young man.
This could have been a really interesting low budget film, and had all the right clichés in place to work pretty well. Cole is a good kid, and Efron plays the 20 something year old kid with just the right amount of moxy and stupidity to make him believable. We also have the young girlfriend of James, played by Emily Ratajkowski, who is OBVIOUSLY going to cause a schism between James and Cole, but once the movie gets past the music and into the behind the scenes drama, it all drops off the deep end. The interpersonal drama just starts building and building and building, leaving the music far behind until the final 20 minutes of the movie.
There are so many subplots and deviations in the script that the story just loses all cohesion and once Cole ACTUALLY finds his own musical signature and has his big break, you’ve lost caring in his character. The boredom has already set in and it’s hard to regain that momentum that has already been lost. Had they left out so many of the superfluous plots dealing with Squirrel, Mason and Ollie there might have been time to flesh out the whole soul searching that James and Cole go through. Or maybe had there been a bit more humor, the dry subject matter may have come to life a bit more. As it stands the film is mired in its own depression, leaving the viewer feeling as frustrated and confused as the main characters. The acting is above average, and the characters have some good chemistry, but a distinct lack of direction hampers an otherwise interesting subject. Especially since Zac Efron supposedly put a LOT of time and effort into learning how to DJ.
Rated R for language throughout, drug use, sexual content and some nudity
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=59498[/img]“We Are Your Friends” is a grungy looking film, shot digitally and shiny smooth, but definitely color graded to give the film a rough look. Colors are dull and desaturated at times, but they can suddenly change to the neon and black tinged craze of a club scene, or a crystal clear and normally graded outdoor moment in the valley. Blacks are good for the majority of the movie, but sometimes look a bit washed out and dirty. Shadow detail is appealing and I couldn’t see any major artifacting like macroblocking or color banding, even in the darker sequences. I can’t say anything bad about the encode, as it looks like WB has plenty of room on the disc and there is no sing of foul play, it’s just the filming style that doesn’t lend itself to razor sharp eye candy.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=59506[/img]For a film dealing with electronic dance music, the track is surprisingly front heavy. After the heavy beats of the club, or when James is mentoring Cole, the film goes back to focusing on the dialog. That being said, the track does exactly what is asked of it, replicating clear and precise dialog in the center channel and pounding out some EDM when required. Once the music kicks up all 6 channels are pounding at full alarm, giving a very encompassing experience, and when the music fades into the background the dialog is once again given center stage. LFE is tight and hits you right in the chest with those kick drums and down beats, and the surrounds are crisp and precise, when they are actually called upon to come out and play.
• How Zac Efron Learned to DJ
“We Are Your Friends” means well, but it can’t seem to gather much traction in the long run. The first act started out really well, with some offbeat humor and the pull of some great ED music, but once the boys get in over their heads with life, the film steadily loses momentum and becomes heavily fractured with all of the melodrama. I wanted to like the movie more than I did, but sadly I can’t recommend this any more than a mild rental, otherwise I’d give it a pass. Audio and video are fine for a low budget release, and the encodes are done competently enough to please the viewers. Unfortunately there are no real substantial extras to add any extra meat to the package, so again, I would say skip it or at the very most add it to your Netflix queue if it sounds interesting.
Starring: Zac Efron, Wes Bentley
Directed by: Max Joseph
Written by: Max Joseph, Meaghan Oppenheimer
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 MPEG2
Audio: English: Dolby Digital 5.1, French DD 5.1
Studio: Warner Brothers
Runtime: 96 Minutes
Own "We Are Your Friends" on DVD November 17 or Own It Early on Digital HD on October 27!
Buy We Are Your Friends On DVD at Amazon
Recommendation: Skip It, Mild Rental
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