We Are Your Friends is an overcooked American dream of awful EDM music
Even Zac Efron looks dead behind the eyes
Meet Zac Efron as Cole Carter: a 23-year-old in LA hoping to be the next big name in house music.
The trailer opens on a sweltering LA street to the banging beats of Justice vs Simian’s We Are Your Friends. Zac Efron appears, jogging like your average guy who jogs in the streets in grey shirts and shorts. It could be you, you could be this guy.
Efron’s voiceover reels off a list of totally relatable college age terms — “student loans”, “SATs”, “liberal arts”, “bail-outs”, “broken dreams”. The music stops dramatically. “This is not our future”, Efron tells us.
“Things are different for us. We can invent an app, start a blog, sell things online.”
We’re there with him with his cutting edge insight into what the young people care about. He has sold us the dream.
And the dream is terrible EDM music, inexplicably popular and somehow cool.
The trailer is a set up for the whole film. Efron’s gang of DJs — who literally never take off their headphones for one second so we know they are DJs — lead the cast with blind enthusiasm, as though if they just believe hard enough an EDM film will stop being a hackneyed, overcooked concept. It will be cool and current again. Movie-goers will sit entranced in their cinema seats, marvelling at how We Are Your Friends has tapped into youth culture, their glassy-eyed gaze filled with awe like that time David Guetta looked like he fell into k-hole at Tomorrowland but luckily his iTunes playlist sorted him out.
Except him and his lame mates don’t sell themselves as DJs, they sell themselves as “party promoters”. All his friends do is offer nothing but very insightful lines to give Cole Carter (is he a superhero in disguise?) some inspiration, such as “99 per cent of people want to party, one per cent are the party”. Wow.
This film was flawed from the ground up. Let’s start with the fact Cole and his mates –– Mason, Ollie and Squirrel (I kid you not) –– the “party promoters”, are chatting up total babes coming out of lectures, getting numbers and raking in the girls. Except that’s not a “party promoter”. What they’d really be doing is promoting a crap club night over Facebook, being the bane of everybody’s life.
It’s like they’ve just discovered Urban Dictionary and want to prove how much sweet slang they know. “Bro” is said so much you’d think it was a touching film about Tourette sufferers discovering the power of a heavy drop. And the teenager vibe continues with the weird notch in Zac Efron’s eyebrow, which he got in an accident leaving him with “this awesome scar”. Because chicks dig scars, you know?
The quality of the music could be forgiven if it wasn’t for the fact Efron’s character claims DJs all have a basic understanding of microbiology. He seems to think he can use the music to control people’s heart rates: “I like to start them at 125 beats per minute. Once you’ve locked onto their heart rate, you start bringing them up song by song. 128 beats per minute ––that’s the magic number.”
Has he got a voodoo mixing deck?
As if the music wasn’t tragic enough, they spend half the time being misogynists –– when Zac isn’t shoving $15,000 in a shoebox under his bed because he doesn’t have a bank account, that is.
Inviting girls to bring friends to the club, the guys say “if they look like you, bring them all”. When the first girl actually talks, 20 minutes into the film, it’s the sort of thing Emmeline Pankhurst died for: “I will only go back with you under two conditions. One, it’s pity sex. Two, don’t talk.”
Who runs the world? Girls indeed. It’s not completely insulting though. The one woman who has more than one line is “an eight and a half on a bad day”.
Emily Ratajkowski shimmies from scene to scene, telling Zac Efron he’s talented while he has an existential crisis over his future. We’re there with him every step of the way as he slams his headphones down on his laptop, considers life in the shower, drinks a brewski while looking blankly into the distance. He is a tortured artist, and his escape is beats and girls.
We are witnessing some seriously relatable content.
If the misogyny doesn’t float your boat, there’s also the delightful fact there is only one line spoken by a black person. It’s a guy with an afro. He has a comb stuck in it.
On the plus side, We Are Your Friends is all about safety. En route to a rave they attend for no apparent reason, the boiz agree to use a “buddy system”. If they get separated, they’re to meet up in the car park. Have they been to a festival? Ever? Or a night out? Even once?
Or maybe their nights out just aren’t like ours. Maybe this brand of tanned valley boys with broken dreams and the Macbook Air uncle Brandon gave them on their 21st are the future of our nights. We’ll stand at the front of their gigs bouncing to 128bpm of Calvin Harris, wearing snapbacks and forgetting about our dismal future, because that’s what youth culture is all about, guys.