We Are Your Friends Movie Review

I saw a commercial for We Are Your Friends a few weeks ago, and as a 26 year old who still shamelessly loves a ton of stuff marketed to adolescents, I was intrigued.

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It seemed to have all the trappings of an enjoyable—albeit shallow—movie: an attractive lead and supporting cast, some catchy music, and an aesthetic reminiscent of your favorite Instagram account. When I heard it had one of the worst box office openings ever, I knew I had to check it out to see why it so epically failed.

To me, the main failing of this movie was not with production, plot, or music choice, but with marketing. When I think back to myself in high school (in the mid-2000s), I have no doubt that my friends and I would have flocked to this film. So, why aren’t today’s teenyboppers buzzing about it? Here’s my take:

  • Its R rating excluded a majority of the film’s target audience from theater viewing. By eliminating the nudity and downplaying some of the drug use, this movie easily could have attained a PG-13 rating and been more accessible for its demographic.
  • In addition to not understanding that its core audience should have been teens, We Are Your Friends wasn’t sure whether its friends should be girls or boys. They cast Zac Efron as the lead, which should have had hoards of teenage girls rushing the theaters, but then the movie is filled with gratuitous boob shots and “bro” moments—not exactly enticing to young females.
  • Other than Zac, a majority of the cast is relatively unknown. The movie needed bigger names to attract an audience. Even Zac isn’t as popular among high schoolers as he used to be; High School Musical came out nearly a decade ago. Spring Breakers had to overcome a lot of the same issues as WAYF as far as ratings and raunchiness, but it fared better because it was done by an acclaimed director and had a cast full of high-profile, teen-idol-type celebs.
  • We Are Your Friends came out after kids already went back to school. It undoubtedly has a summer feel, so I think it would have been more successful if it had come out at the beginning or peak of summer.

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Outside of its problems with marketing to the right demographic, the plot was also incredibly clichéd and predictable. Teen movies about chasing your dreams often are, so I wasn’t particularly surprised or perturbed by that. However, what I had a serious problem with was the lack of character development.

We’re told Cole (Efron) has been living with his friend since he was 15 years old, but why? This question—among many others—is never answered.

It’s hard to care about your lead when you are given no insight into why you should. He seems to have more heart and more of a conscience than others in the film, but viewers never know why or how he came to be this way.

Overall, I enjoyed the soundtrack of the film. Die-hard fans of electronic music seem to have serious problems with the portrayal of the DJ/EDM scene—yet another demographic that was alienated—but as someone who enjoys nearly any non-country song with a beat you can dance to, I was perfectly satisfied with and entertained by the music.

The stand-out track for me was the mid-movie song Cole and James produced with Sophie’s spoken vocals. Not sure if I’m missing something, but this track appears to be absent from the soundtrack, which I was bummed about. I also really liked Gryffin’s remix of “Desire” by Years & Years.

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Ultimately, the film had the potential to wow teen crowds but fell short. We Are Your Friends culminates in Cole’s big-time DJ debut, where he plays a track that centers around the line, “Are we ever gonna be better than this?” While undoubtedly meant to be introspective and inspiring, the lyric misses the mark since, ironically, both the track and the movie definitely could have been much, much better.

I give the movie a solid C. While not wholly unenjoyable, it was certainly nothing new, impressive, or groundbreaking.

Until the next commercial break,