We Are Your Friends (3 stars)

We Are Your Friends

Charming but corny electronic dance music flick starring Zac Efron

Zac Efron plays an aspiring DJ from the San Fernando Valley who’s looking for inspiration in all the wrong places in Max Joseph’s debut feature that dispels the myth of the American dream. 23-year-old Cole (Efron) spends his time hanging out with childhood friends Mason (Jonny Weston), Ollie (Shiloh Fernandez) and Squirrel (Alex Shaffer) who, by day, promote nightclubs and round-up attractive women for a small fee.

If at first this feels like Entourage all over again, the younger generation needn't be disheartened as the screenplay – written by Joseph and Meaghan Oppenheimer from a story by Richard Silverman – is more interested in Cole’s life lessons and his evolution as an artist in the EDM scene than in watching him spunk cash on possessions. Set in the modern day, the housing crisis forms part of the story, while band of the moment Years & Years feature on the soundtrack.

As expected from a first-time filmmaker who's worked on the TV show Catfish, there are certain elements – such as words flashing up on screen and Efron’s narration – that simply scream millennial angst. At points it strongly resembles the video for Baz Luhrmann’s 'Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen)', which was based on Mary Schmich’s Chicago Tribune essay, in its look and passing on of advice. Its 90's influences capture the mood of twentysomethings, who are nostalgic for that era. But, as Cole and his friends sing along to Sublime’s 'Santeria' at the top of their voices, an ambience of discontent is discernible which grows and mutates as the movie progresses.

Wes Bentley appears as an ageing house music guru, with problems of his own, who acts as a mentor to Cole. And, though Emily Ratajkowski essentially plays the love interest she is at least given some issues to work through. Despite it following a corny narrative and featuring some odd directorial decisions, especially in the final throes, We Are Your Friends is charmingly sincere as it rummages around the realms of youthful possibility, emerging with the kind of altered perspective that comes with age.

General release from Thu 27 Aug.

We Are Your Friends

  • 3 stars
  • 2015
  • UK / France / US
  • 1h 36min
  • 15
  • Directed by: Max Joseph
  • Cast: Zac Efron, Emily Ratajkowski, Jon Bernthal, Wes Bentley
  • UK release: 28 August 2015

Cole (Efron) is an aspiring DJ from the San Fernando Valley, looking for inspiration in all the wrong places. Despite a corny narrative and some odd directorial decisions, it's a charmingly sincere exploration of youthful possibilities with a discernible and growing ambiance of discontent.