Friday, August 28, 2015

We Are Your Friends Review

This month we've had the pleasure of experiencing several musical dramas. The first is one that I still have yet to see, that of Meryl Streep's Ricki and the Flash. I'll get to it eventually. The second is one that I really didn't think I would like because in general I hate rap music, but despite that I was shocked that I liked the movie Straight Outta Compton. The third one, despite the poisonous release date, was actually the one that I was most intrigued by, that of We Are Your Friends. Intrigued is an interesting word, though. I wasn't necessarily excited to see a movie about Zac Efron aspiring to be a popular DJ, but I was intrigued because I love electronic music. In fact, you could call it my favorite genre of music. My expectations going in weren't actually super high given the late August release date combined with the poor reviews. Mostly I walked out with a desire for them to make an actual biopic of some early pioneer of electronic music. That could be really good. However, I was also surprised that I didn't hate this movie as much as some others have. It's nothing special, but it's also not the typical late-August crap that usually gets released this weekend.

No this isn't a biopic. It's not based on the true story of some DJ. Instead it's exactly what I said in the last paragraph. Cole Carter, played by Zac Efron, is aspiring to be a popular DJ. That's it really. He plays at a lot of small clubs full of mostly high school students and possibly some young college students and hangs out with a weird group of annoying friends that you never really care too much about until maybe the very end. One night he is at a club about to be up to DJ when he runs into none other than Seneca Crane who takes him under his wing to help him be the next big game maker for the Hunger Games. Oh wait, wrong movie. We have Wes Bentley, who plays Seneca Crane in The Hunger Games, show up to the club and invite Cole to come to a party with him. Cole decides it's a good idea to just skip his DJ-ing gig for the night to go to this party with a random stranger where he ends up on some weird drugs that turns everything into a cartoon and before long makes him black out and wake up on this stranger's couch the next morning. There he is reunited with a girl that he met the previous night before Wes showed up that turns out to be Wes's girlfriend. All is well, though, because Wes Bentley is actually a guy named James who is a big name DJ and decides to take Cole in under his wing and help him be a better DJ.

Based on that, you could probably guess what is going to happen in this movie and you would probably be right, especially if I hinted you in on the fact that Cole has the hots for the girlfriend, who is played by Emily Ratajkowski. Like I said, this is nothing special story-wise, although there are some good aspects of the story that I did enjoy. First off, we do have moments where the movie is trying to teach the audience about electronic music. You get some insight on what it takes to be a DJ. Believe it or not, it does require a lot of skill to try to create the perfect song that will get the party moving. And that DJ board is fairly complex. It's a different type of skill than what makes your typical rock star or pop artist popular, but it does require skill. Then there the moments where Wes Bentley is teaching Zac Efron about how to be a better DJ that will stand out, showing him that he can implement actual instruments like drums and pianos instead of just mixing everything on a computer. These were great moments and I was actually liking the direction the movie was taking me. Sadly these moments were few and far between. Instead of going the direction I wanted the movie to go, it got really boring and cliche. I found myself playing around on my phone for much of the movie instead of giving the movie my undivided attention. Yes, this was fine because I was the only one in theater, but the movie lost a lot points in my book because I got bored.

The acting in the movie was actually pretty decent. Zac Efron himself wasn't anything special. He didn't do a bad job, but he felt replaceable as our main character. His group of friends were the same. In fact, they were really pointless for most of the movie. Things would've been better without them or at least with less screen-time for them. The other two, though, were really good. Hitting it out of the park in this movie and almost single-handedly saving it was Wes Bentley. His character was actually really interesting. He had a lot of baggage that we don't really dive into, but we can tell he is a broken individual and thus a really deep character. Things get interesting in the second half of the movie and I think the movie wanted me to think that Wes Bentley was the jerk with Zac Efron being the guy that I care for, but it was actually the other way around. I really liked Wes Bentley's character and I was hoping things turned out well for him. What made this happen was a great acting performance from Wes. Huge round of applause for him. The other character that I really liked was Emily Ratajkowski. I was really skeptic about her because up to this point she's just been typecast as the hot girl who doesn't need to act because she's just there for people to look at. I mean, she's one of the girls in Robin Thicke's Blurred Lines music video if that helps you understand what I'm getting at. But being that she was the lead female in this, I wanted to see some acting out of her and that's what I got. Yes there were plenty of shots where she wore skimpy outfits and the camera made sure to remind us that she has a really good figure, if you know what I mean, but for the most part she actually acted and was a character I cared for, so props to her. Hopefully she can do more of that in the future.

I told you that a lot of this movie was boring and cliche and I stand by that. However, the second half of the movie actually did get fairly emotional. Yes, it still was cliche, but it was done well enough that I started to care for the characters, even the annoying friends that were mostly useless in the first half of the movie. Yes, I knew everything that was going to happy. There were no crazy twists or turns. But I was into it. I also really liked the thing that Zac Efron came up with at the end of the movie because you know the movie is going to end with him doing a huge DJ gig. That's not a spoiler. That's common sense. And it was a lot of fun. In general, the whole soundtrack of this movie was fantastic. This is where me being a fan of electronic music helped me enjoy this movie more. If you hate this style of music, you might think it's just loud and noisy, but I thought it gave the movie just enough energy to keep in interesting. I payed close attention to the end credits where it showed all of the songs that were included in the movie and I was rather blown away by how many amazing artists were included in this. I'm not going to name them because if you aren't a fan of electronic music then it'll just be a bunch of random, meaningless names that you've never heard of. But nevertheless I'm going to have a lot of fun going through this soundtrack and downloading it all to my apple music library.

Overall, I was intrigued when I heard of this movie because I like electronic music, but I wasn't super excited because movies that are released in late-August are rarely good and the early reviews weren't too encouraging. No, this isn't a great movie. In fact it's boring and cliche for much of it. But I ended up enjoying it more than some other people have. It's not a bad movie. Do I recommend it as a movie that you need to see? No. You could skip this and you wouldn't really be missing anything, but if you like going to a lot of movies like I do, then this isn't a bad option. Zac Efron gives a decent performance as the lead male and Emily Ratajkowski gives a surprisingly good performance as the lead female. Best of all, Wes Bentley knocks it out of the park with his performances as the supporting male in the movie and almost single-handedly saves the movie. Also, if you are like me and you love electronic music, then you at least need to look up the soundtrack of this movie because it's rather incredible. My grade for We Are Your Friends is a 7/10.

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