Drama DVD Review

'We Are Your Friends' DVD Review: Not even Zac Efron's pecs can save this EDM drama

November 25, 2015Ben MK

In 2014's Neighbors, Zac Efron surprised many a moviegoer by delivering a performance that didn't just capitalize on his good looks, but also showed off his acting and comedic chops. Fast forward one year, and it's sad that the same can't be said of Efron's performance in his latest film, We Are Your Friends, a drama from Catfish director Max Joseph.

Set against the backdrop of the electronic dance music industry, the movie has Efron playing an aspiring DJ named Cole Carter, a college dropout from California's San Fernando Valley. Cole dreams of making it big as an EDM artist, but the reality of his situation is that he's been living out of his friend's pool house for the better part of the last decade, and his gigs mainly consist of playing Thursday night socials for local students. His life changes one night, however, when he comes face-to-face with one of his idols, DJ James Reed (Wes Bentley), who sees Cole's potential and decides to take him under his wing.

So things start looking up for Cole — that is, if he can avoid the path of self-destruction he and his friends (Jonny Weston, Shiloh Fernandez and Alex Shaffer) seem to be following. That includes endless nights of drinking, drugs, and getting romantically involved with James' girlfriend/personal assistant, Sophie (Emily Ratajkowski), not to mention a job working for sketchy businessman Paige (Jon Bernthal), whose specialty is stealing the homes right from under the noses of victims of foreclosure. Needless to say, it's only a matter of time before Cole screws something up and is forced to take a long, hard look at his life.

We Are Your Friends clocks in at a mercifully short hour-and-a-half in length, but somehow that still seems about half-an-hour too long. For most of its running time, the movie struggles with serving up any kind of cohesive narrative, instead filling the screen with the escapades of unlikable characters and scenes that feel like they belong more in a music video than a feature film. Then there's Efron's performance itself, which registers at about an 8 out of 10 on the blandness scale. Even Ratajkowski doesn't seem genuinely interested in hooking up with him, which begs the question: With friends like these, who needs enemies?

As disappointing a cinematic experience as you're likely to have with We Are Your Friends, the film's technical presentation on DVD is anything but. This is one of those odd titles that isn't being released on Blu-ray, but the quality of the standard definition imagery on display here more than suffices, with nice color saturation, strong black levels, relatively sharp detail, and a bit of film grain to help recreate the way the film looked in theaters. As for the audio, the disc comes equipped with a solid Dolby Digital 5.1 mix, resulting in crystal-clear dialogue, and bringing to life the various night club, concert and house party sequences.

Warner's one-disc DVD release includes the following extra:

  • How Zac Efron Learned to DJ (7:41) - A featurette that promises a look at how Efron and the filmmakers brought some realism to their depiction of DJ'ing and the EDM scene, but instead amounts to little more than a back-patting session.

We Are Your Friends is available from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment as of November 17th, 2015. The DVD features English Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, and English Dolby Digital 5.1 Descriptive Audio tracks. Subtitles are presented in English SDH, French and Spanish. The total runtime is 1 Hr. 36 Mins.

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