A combination of a documentary and a glossy music video rolled into one, "We Are Your Friends" is a half-baked film on partying, drugs, music, aspirations and friendship. It is also about small struggles in life before the meteoric rise. The film touches on all the above mentioned subjects and follows a cliched path that leads nowhere.
The film is about an aspiring DJ Cole (Zac Efron) and his high school buddies; Mason (Jonny Weston), Ollie (Shiloh Fernandez), a wannabe actor and Squirrel (Alex Shaffer). They aren't doing much besides melting away in the San Fernando Valley.
The narration opens with a kind of free-wheeling attitude that symbolises the youthful mentality that will be on display and it feels appropriately improvised and somewhat overly stylish, though it never acknowledges how cool it is trying to be.
The four friends are as thick as thieves, with Mason being the self-proclaimed team leader-cum-manager, who organises local rave parties where Cole plays the music, and the others organise the crowds and drugs.
Between these parties, the four try to accomplish their dreams and fulfil their aspirations, but they feel stuck or even worse, for they know they don't have what it takes to make it, in the big wide world, out of their hometown.
The narration gathers momentum when Cole finds himself caught between a forbidden romance with Sophie (Emily Ratajkowski), the girlfriend of his mentor James Reed (Wes Bentley) and the expectations of his friends in his attempts to find the path in life that leads to fame and fortune.
While the tale sounds interesting, the problem is that none of the characters are complex or interesting enough to hold your attention, as none of them are facing any kind of tangible struggle. More than anything, the actual hardship they face is splitting from the group and making something out of their lives.
Unfortunately their bonding -- apart from partying or occasionally working at Jason's home or the four of them working with Paige (Jon Bernthal), who runs a mortgage company that regularly cheats people out of their homes -- does not reflect in the scenes.
The only characters who shine are Bentley, Emily Ratajkowski and Efron. They are inexplicably, intriguing and complex characters in a love triangle. They essay their parts effectively.
What makes this film mediocre is Jones and Meaghan Oppenheimer's writing. Taken from a story by executive producer Richard Silverman, the characters are half baked and one-dimensional and the plot surrenders to formula instead of subverting it.
On the technical front, with moderate production resources, the output is fairly good. Brett Pawlak's camera work is unsteady at times but once the soundtrack takes over, it's nearly impossible not to step into the ebb and flow of the beat.
The emotional peaks of the film are meant to be felt through the music, which comes from the soundtracks of EDM artists including Justice, Tchami, Will Sparks, Dom Dolla, Hayden James, The Magician, Years & Years, AlunaGeorge, Klingande, Seinabo Sey, Gryffin, Deorro, Carnage, Bro Safari and The Americanos.
Overall, this film will appeal only to the Disco and musically inclined buffs.