Kyle J. Steenblik

We Are Your Friends is Underdeveloped and Shortchanges the Audience

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we are your friends advance screening

2 1/2 stars out of 5

 

We Are Your Friends
Directed by: Max Joseph
Screenplay by: Max Joseph, Meaghan Oppenheimer
Story by: Richard Silverman
Starring: Zac Efron, Emily Ratajkowski, Shiloh Fernandez, Alex Shaffer, Jonny Weston, Wes Bentley
Running time: 96 minutes
Rated R for language throughout, drug use, sexual content and some nudity

This film was tragically underdeveloped, which cheated the audience out of a potentially interesting and entertaining film. I cannot understand why, at only 96 minutes including the opening and closing credits there was ample time to develop the characters, and the story. Given at least another 30 minutes , and maybe reduce some of the time we spent listening to electronic dance music we, as an audience, may have had the chance to develop a connection to any one of the characters. As frustrating as it was to simply not care what happens to any of the characters in this film, I had to resort to being annoyed with the vapid stupidity they constantly displayed, but that might just be that I felt the urge to tell them to get off my lawn. I feel that being unable to relate to characters I should have easily been able to empathize with is a major problem, and displays a weakness director Max Joseph will need to overcome to move beyond the documentaries he has been making. That said this did do several things well, they did a very good job demonstrating the artistry, and showmanship, behind electronic dance music. Max Joseph employed some creative and visually interesting film work; there is one scene in particular that visualized the impact of PCP using some great animation, unfortunately these tricks were use too sparingly.

Cole (Zac Efron), an aspiring EDM DJ, and his friends Mason (Johnny Weston), Ollie (Shiloh Fernandez), and Squirrel (Alex Shaffer) are desperate to escape Fresno Valley, and make it out of the middle class lives that are threatening to engulf their futures. Trying to work their way up the food chain in the Hollywood club scene Cole encounters a once-great DJ named James (Wes Bentley) who adopts Cole as his protégé. With the help of James’s assistant, Sophie (Emily Ratajkowski) Cole begins to discover his unique sound, and the one track that will launch his career, but Cole might lose everything when he falls for Sophie, and begins to alienate his friends.

This film will appeal to males under the age of 27, who are enamored with the electronic dance music club scene.  In fact I that is the only demographic, that I think will really appreciate this film.  I am sorry to report that there is only one main speaking female role in this film, and that character revolves completely around James and Cole.  This lack of reasonable representation of female characters is should be unacceptable from mainstream studio films.  Especially in a film where there are a multitude of scenes with more women on screen then men.  In those scenes, the women are relegated to dancing set dressing.  The film displayed a level of casual female objectification that made me feel uncomfortable.  I really want to like this movie, there is a lot to like and enjoy, unfortunately, I cannot enjoy it, or recommend it, and it is not much more than a half-complete concept that required more development.

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