Your Friends is derivative, flashy
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We Are Your Friends is a combination of unoriginal plotting and spunky animation set to an EDM soundtrack. The classic bildungsroman narrative is brought into the modern era by injecting edgy songs into the played out Great Expectation-esque story. Friends is entertaining but painfully predictable.
While the title foreshadows the importance of friendship, the ragtag band that the film revolves around is the least interesting part of the movie; the only thing the friends have in common with one another is that they’re all deadbeats trying to breach the surface of Hollywood’s elite society. Ollie (Shiloh Fernandez) is a failed actor who makes money by selling drugs at clubs and raves; Squirrel (Alex Shaffer) is the reclusive follower who spouts memorable words of wisdom; Mason (Jonny Weston) is the hopeful moneymaker of the group who works as a club promoter and dreams of owning a home in the nice part of Hollywood and partying. It is Mason’s optimistic and childish dream that they will someday escape from the dregs of society that holds this group together.
Luckily, James (Wes Bentley), a renowned DJ artist, plucks Cole out from the dried up pools of San Fernando Valley and begins mentoring him in the art of EDM (Electronic Dance Music). Cole, who declares early on that to become a DJ one only needs to have “a laptop, some talent and one track,” learns through James that even if EDM can be made using sounds from an electronic database, the sourcs of those sounds must be genuine and honest. Director Max Joseph’s attempt to cover all aspects of the struggles of today’s youth becomes a shallow concoction of existential crises’, angst, and romantic interludes.
What this film fails to do plotwise it makes up for artistically. There are moments in the movie that can be considered intoxicatingly beautiful. James and Cole’s expedition to an art gallery while tripped up on drugs results in an explosion of life and color that gives the scene an incredible artistic vivacity. Max Joseph also brilliantly contrasts the dry and bleak Valley with the intense and heart pounding liveliness of nightlife in Hollywood.
This movie, with silly interjections that teach the audience about the art of and science behind DJ-ing, if not worth watching not for the story, definitely is for the pulsating rhythm and exhilarating color.