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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » We Are Your Friends
We Are Your Friends
Warner Bros. // R // November 17, 2015
List Price: $28.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by William Harrison | posted December 10, 2015 | E-mail the Author
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THE FILM:

This Zac Efron DJ drama made less than $2 million during its opening weekend last August despite opening on more than 2,000 screens. Oops. We Are Your Friends is not terrible, and the outright belly flop seems a result of poor marketing and the lack of a bankable fan base for Efron. Max Joseph, a co-host on Catfish: The TV Show, directs from a script he wrote with Meaghan Oppenheimer, and uses the electronic dance music scene as the film's backdrop. The film's use of EDM is underwhelming, and We Are Your Friends never gets down to the nuts and bolts of production, and instead shows its DJ-in-training Efron spinning nobs and bobbing his head to the beat. Wes Bentley joins as a coasting, alcoholic EDM veteran, and Emily Ratajkowski is the point in that pair's love triangle. We Are Your Friends is breezily entertaining at 96 minutes, but it never threatens to become memorable.

Cole Carter (Efron) and his bros, Dustin (Jonny Weston), Ollie (Shiloh Fernandez) and Squirrel (Alex Shaffer), promote for a local club and mostly get paid in free booze. Efron dabbles in amateur EDM mixing on the side, and gets a chance invite from DJ James Reed (Bentley) to join him at a party. Cole proves he can hang after Reed gives him PCP - an experience depicted with rotoscoping in the film's most memorable sequence - and Reed invites Cole to work on tracks after initially dismissing his work. College dropout Sophie (Ratajkowski) is Reed's "assistant," and immediately catches Cole's eye. Reed proves a questionable mentor, and Cole is torn between his passion and friends, who show up to Reed's house and crash his pool party.

I think Joseph is trying to capture the angst of the young and restless here. Cole and his boys are SoCal burnouts with little going on. We Are Your Friends might have been a better film if it was successful at capturing the burgeoning EDM scene or depicting complex friendships. It does neither particularly well. Squirrel is the closest thing to a sympathetic character in the film. Ollie is the party-boy addict, and Dustin acts like a gangbanger to cover up his insecurities. These guys really do bring Cole down, but We Are Your Friends also reminds us that they raise him up. Yeah. The limited budget is also apparent here. The EDM tunes are generic as they come, and the film never really digs deep into the scene. Sure, we hear about rhythm and heartbeat and pretty girls, but it's a shallow exploration.

Generic characters and flimsy plot aside, We Are Your Friends is at least entertaining. The aforementioned rotoscoping sequence is cool, as is a scene where Cole gets producing inspiration during an outdoor run. I enjoyed the Efron-Bentley-Ratajkowski combo, too. There's something compelling about each of these actors, and they are better than this material. Not every movie has to be substantial, I suppose. This one will quickly fade into obscurity, but you could do worse than catch it on cable.

THE DVD:

PICTURE:

Yes, it is 2015. No, Warner Brothers did not release We Are Your Friends on Blu-ray in the United States. I guess that's what happens when you shit the bed at the box office. The anamorphic widescreen presentation is decent for standard definition. There is, of course, a loss of detail due to the resolution, and I saw plenty of compression artifacts. Sharpness and fine-object detail are as good as can be expected, and black levels are even. Colors are bold and skin tones are accurate. I noticed some banding but no edge enhancement.

SOUND:

The 5.1 Dolby Digital soundtrack thumps. There is plenty of music in the film, and that provides an immersive experience. Concertgoers cheer in the surrounds, Efron's shoes thump the pavement around the sound field, and the subwoofer hollers to the tunes. Dialogue, effects and score are layered appropriately. A French 5.1 dub is included, as are English, French and Spanish subs.

EXTRAS:

No HD digital copy included to save this release from SD hell! The only bonus feature is How Zac Efron Learned to DJ, a tenish-minute piece where Efron learns the trade from veterans and the cast talks about the film.

FINAL THOUGHTS:

This box office flop is certainly not Zac Efron's finest hour, but this EDM-centric drama is breezily entertaining for 96 minutes. The flimsy characters and shallow narrative scuttle any chance the film has to make a meaningful impression, but there are some unique shots and decent energy thanks to the cast. I can't recommend a purchase, particularly of this so-so DVD. Rent It.

Additional screenshots:

William lives in Burlington, North Carolina, and looks forward to a Friday-afternoon matinee.

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