Cole is a twenty something, DJ-ing in a club for free, trying to catch his big break and set the world on its ear with a groundbreaking beat. All the while, he lives at his friend Mason's (Johnny Weston; Taken 3) house doing odd jobs in between gigs. A chance meeting with Big time DJ James Reed (Wes Bently; The Hunger Games) gives Cole the opportunity to explore his sound and become a legitimate DJ making some real money.
However, Cole manages to ruin a good thing by sleeping with Reed's assistant/girlfriend Sophie (Emily Ratajkowski; Gone Girl), and finds himself back once again with his old buddies "scrounging for scraps". Forced to reevaluate his life, Cole finds inspiration and his "beat" in the most unlikely of places and ends up, with the help of Reed, DJ-ing the gig of his life and killing it in the process.
Efron is very good as Cole and gives a real substance to the character. His exchanges with Ratajkowski are thoughtful and the two have a chemistry that comes across well on screen. Bentley plays Reed with just enough arrogance to make him cocky but still somewhat likable. The rest of the cast does a good job with an extra nod for a job well done to Alex Shafer (The Lifeguard) as Squirrel, Cole's slightly more mature and philosophical member of the group of friends.
Directing his first major feature film, Max Joseph (Catfish: The TV show) shows some of his inexperience. He uses so many techniques in the story telling, it comes across as if he was trying too hard. The close ups were effective, but used too liberally, and the animated, melting paint meant to depict a PCP trip came across cartoonish and psychotic which was really distracting. While I liked the explanation of the "Science of DJ-ing", I found Joseph's choice of what seemed liked YouTube fodder, to be kind of sophomoric.
Based on the trailer, I didn't have high hopes for the film, but I was pleasantly surprised that I enjoyed it as much as I did. There was a real story behind Cole and his friends that depicted the struggle younger adults have trying to "find themselves" in the world. The trailer promoted this film as a club/partying group of guys out to have a good time, but it was so much more with relatable stories and, of course, some tragedy thrown in.
While We Are Your Friends tries to put a modern twist on the classic "finding yourself" films, I think my generation's St. Elmo's Fire did it better and I don't think this movie will be remembered the way the latter film is 30 years later.
Entertaining as it is, and with some good acting thrown in, I think We Are Your Friends misses the mark in some aspects and won't be a blockbuster in theaters. Grade: C+