We Are Your Friends is about a young amateur DJ, Cole Carter (Zac Efron), who is trying to pursue his dream of performing on the big stage. He, along with his three best friends, are also dealing with the reality that they need an actual steady income in the meantime. Carter happens to befriend a world famous veteran DJ, James Reed (Wes Bentley), who takes him under his wing and mentors him. Things get complicated when Carter becomes attracted to Reed’s girlfriend, Sophie (Emily Ratajkowski).
First off, I would like to say that I am an aspiring musician. I’m a part of a songwriting and production team who, up until recently, hasn’t seemed to be getting our career off the ground. There’s a lot of push and pull. When you have big dreams and talent, you’re not always guaranteed easy access to the fame and fortune. I once had someone tell me that getting your foot in the door is easy. The hard part is getting through the door. I like We Are Your Friends because I completely relate to it. But the film’s biggest downfall is that not many people will.
Unless you live in Los Angeles and surround yourself with the electronic music scene, you probably won’t have any affinity towards this film. You actually might hate it. You might think that it’s filled with a wealth of self-importance–like it’s placing their whole music subculture on a pedestal. Why should you think this is momentous when there are much more significant things people could be aspiring to? Much like when you watch rich kids whine about not getting the exact sports car that they want. So what if you don’t become a famous DJ? Well, the best part about this film is it touches on those exact themes. It acknowledges that there are more important things in life than being famous. I’ve learned this myself through struggling with my own career. You have to learn to enjoy the process as well as where it gets you. If you lose yourself on the way there, then why does all this other stuff matter? Some may say that it still does. That when you get the money and the fame and the power, that nothing else matters. But are those people truly happy with themselves?
But I know I haven’t really touched upon the film itself. The script could be better. It lacks some conflict and a lot of the movie is predictable. Filled with situations we’ve seen before. But it never strays away from its purpose. Its esoteric nature may be another turnoff for some, but it gives us a lot of information about the topic in a way that’s not overwhelming. It sort of reminds me of Cocktail–another film that I happened to like way more than the critics did.
It does borrow a lot, dramatically, from films before it, but the music themes are what set it apart. Reed quotes Ralph Waldo Emerson by saying “Imitation is suicide.” It makes sense. He who tries to imitate someone else loses sight of their own identity. As much as We Are Your Friends strikes a resonant chord for me, and will with many others, sadly most will chalk it up to just being derivative.