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film criticism by maryann johanson | since 1997

We Are Your Friends movie review: straight outta the Valley

We Are Your Friends red light

Not so much a movie as an advertisement for a soft drink or tampons or sneakers or a cell phone for fresh! active! fun! young! people.
I’m “biast” (pro): nothing

I’m “biast” (con): nothing

(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)

Imitation is suicide,” scolds celebrity dance DJ James Reed (Wes Bentley: Interstellar) to the hot up-and-comer, Cole Carter (Zac Efron: Neighbors), he has taken under his wing. Which is highly ironic, because We Are Your Friends couldn’t be more derivative of every single hungry-young-artist movie you’ve ever seen. Cole loathes his crappy workaday life in the unfashionable San Fernando Valley and dream of bigger and better things in the more glamorous parts of Los Angeles on the other side of the Hollywood Hills. Are Cole’s less enlightened friends holding him back and embarrassing him in front of James? Will James’s gorgeous and much-younger girlfriend, Sophie (Emily Ratajkowski: Entourage), threaten to come between mentor and mentee? You know it. But director and coscreenwriter Max Joseph, in his feature debut, isn’t content to merely ape narrative tropes of an already overly explored genre: he has made a movie that looks like an advertisement for a soft drink or tampons or sneakers or a cell phone — any product that wants you to associate it with fresh! active! fun! young! people. Efron’s usual appeal is lost among it. Not lost, because it’s so literal, so on-the-nose, is Joseph’s depiction of all the personal experience and tragedy that goes into a man’s art, as Cole electronically samples the sounds of the Valley and turns them into a dance soundtrack for fresh! active! fun! young! people to groove to. Or perhaps to buy sneakers to.

See also my #WhereAreTheWomen rating of We Are Your Friends for its representation of girls and women.

red light 2 stars

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We Are Your Friends (2015)
US/Can release: Aug 28 2015
UK/Ire release: Aug 27 2015

MPAA: rated R for language throughout, drug use, sexual content and some nudity
BBFC: rated 15 (very strong language, strong sex references, drug use)

viewed at a private screening with an audience of critics

official site | IMDb
more reviews: Movie Review Query Engine | Rotten Tomatoes

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