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With their raves, Molly, and whatever else they’re up to these days, the aforementioned Damn Kids are pretty into electronic dance music, or EDM as Those Damn Kids prefer to refer to it. EDM is dance music, just like Big Band Swing was, exactly like early rock and roll was, just like disco was, despite its synthetic trappings—the “Electronic” portion. With the possible exception of Big Band Swing, all of these musical genres were at first derided and, to some extent, misunderstood by Hollywood.
Making a big deal out of “understanding” EDM is the theme of the Max Joseph-directed film “We Are Your Friends,” which was written by Joseph and Meaghan Oppenheimer and was based on a scenario by producer Richard Silverman. There is the slick, versatile use of visual formats in the filmmaking, which combines elements of graphic design with animation and other mediums for some of the most captivating scenes. In one scene, the main character, Cole Carter, a budding EDM DJ, elaborates on the science of EDM while rocking a dance floor. He describes how to find the magic BPM (Beats Per Minute) count that causes the music to control the dance floor participants, turning them into something resembling zombies under the influence of the pulsating bass. A mentor DJ introduces his potential protege while flaunting a rare Buchla synthesizer and disparagingly comparing him to Juan Atkins.
With a recent documentary about the EDM production team/record label DFA, Joseph has some actual expertise. The EDM soundtrack of this movie felt pretty credible/hot to me, despite the fact that my knowledge of EDM doesn’t go much beyond that of an intrigued dabbler/dilettante. It’s unfortunate that the character development and storyline of the film are as clichéd as, oh, “Don’t Knock The Rock.” How’s this for a cliché: talented, eager, but inexperienced DJ is taken under the wing of older, well-known, but jaded and almost-washed-up genre star who opens his eyes and who also happens to…wait for it…have a stunning girlfriend with whom Mr. Talented And Eager gets hooked in a bad way. That kind of plot, yes.
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What’s worse is that the DJ in question, Cole Carter, comes with a group of tattooed BroDouche buddies from the San Fernando Valley who are worse than the “Diner” crew in terms of belligerence, ignorance, and sexism. without any appeal. Mason (Jonny Weston), a loud character, Ollie (Shiloh Fernandez), a self-described “movie star,” and Squirrel (Alex Shaffer). In case you didn’t guess, Squirrel is the timid, delicate one.
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After “Neighbors,” Zac Efron’s portrayal of Cole becomes a little edgier. A few months back, I came across some false information: I read that Zach Braff was portraying the EDM DJ in this movie. “Zach Braff trying to pass himself off as a guy who’s even HEARD any EDM, let alone an EDM DJ, is about as credible as Bruce Hornsby jamming with The Melvins,” I had a wonderful observation ready. But like I already explained, I was in the wrong.
Also, you will find out which character are you in this We Are Your Friends quiz.
However, Efron frequently has a similar seasick appearance to Braff. His character’s initial obscurity as a character has something to do with it in part. Because the mentor DJ is played by Wes Bentley, who adds a humming undercurrent of sardonicism to the role, the mentor-girlfriend triangle is one of the more watchable overall portions of the film (the stuff with Cole and his friends is very nearly insufferable, and the detour these career-challenged millennials take with a coarse real estate vulture in a subplot constitutes several varieties of nadir). I wished I was a lot younger man, a man with hair, and a tolerance for recreational drugs after watching a scene at a DJ festival in Las Vegas in which her character gives Cole a tab of Ecstasy, or whatever it is, and they “roll” together. Given that I am happily married to a stunning woman who doesn’t mind that I have bald spots on my head, I should say almost made me wish. Aside from her Major Presence, Ratajkowski excels at navigating her character’s three key nodes—Sweet, Sexy, and Sensible—which are actually the only ones that matter.
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But I digress. There is introduce a Cautionary Tale Plot Point near the end that is so arbitrary as to be offensive, lest the viewer conclude that this movie’s portrayal of the EDM drug culture is too careless. However, it’s already brutally obvious how miserable the movie has been, so it’s too late to be truly offended. Then, despite the sequence being somewhat decent, it’s too late as the movie tries one more spectacular attempt to help lay viewers “grok” EDM. The final thing I’m going to say about the film is that friends shouldn’t let friends spend money to see “We Are Your Friends,” even if I might actually go out and get the soundtrack album.Also, you must try to play this We Are Your Friends quiz.