We Are Your Friends: ‘EDM Film’ Flops, But it’s Not Zac Efron’s Fault
Alex ShafferEmily Ratajkowski...
In 1 Cinema
Few films have been met with the kind of pre-release mockery that We Are Your Friends faced in the run-up to its release, particularly from the electronic music community. In possibly the most eyebrow-raising casting choice this year, aside from Ben Affleck playing Batman, the seemingly forever derided Zac Efron took the brunt of the public beating, though, quite frankly, he’s one of the few highlights in an otherwise bland coming-of-age story.
The problem isn’t Efron; the problem lays somewhere in the communication of what this film is. This is not an ‘EDM film’, if ever there were such a thing; it’s a film with EDM in it. It might be a pedantic thing to say, but it really does matter in your enjoyment of this film. Efron plays young, up-and-coming DJ, Cole Carter, who finds a mentor in more-senior peer, James (Bentley). As the two traverse the world of dance music, Cole slowly comes to develop a liking for James’ girlfriend, Sophie (Ratajkowski). The feeling is mutual and the situation eventually comes to confront Cole with a tough(ish) decision to make.
If you take out any mention of EDM, DJs, raves and clubs in the description of this film, you’re left with a solid, if rather passé, canvas on which director, Max Joseph, can paint his vision onto – a young man with a supposed talent struggles to find his place in the world. Who doesn’t like an underdog? The problem with this is that the blank canvas isn’t so blank and is in fact weighed down by the kind of Hollywood clichés that simply can’t be accommodated by the reality of grass roots electronic music – it just doesn’t fit. It’s slick, it’s flashy and it’s made for the MTV generation. Granted, the culture of electronic music has never been as candid as that of other similarly influential genres, but this was a chance to makes something that delved into murky waters of a type of music that you can’t escape these days.
Even the characters are drawn from the oblivion of clichés, despite the young, aesthetically-pleasing and overall solid cast; said characters are wooden and, at times, painfully predictable. In the end, it isn’t Efron you should be mad at; like him or hate him, the 27 year-old High School Musical breakout star doesn’t have a filmography that screams Oscar-winner-in-the-making, but his performances are often dependable and affective, and with a few wiser choices, he could surprise us all.