A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that We Are Your Friends is a drama about DJ culture in Southern California's San Fernando Valley. Teens may be drawn in by the pulsing electronic dance music or stars Zac Efron and Emily Ratajkowski, but the material is definitely geared toward more mature viewers. Topless women are shown (and women are objectified in general), and there are sex scenes and kissing. Language is very strong, with frequent use of "f--k," "s--t," "c--t," and many others. Characters get in fights and drink a lot, as well as doing many different kinds of drugs, from cocaine to Ecstasy and pot. A key character is a drug dealer, and one character dies, apparently from consuming too much during a party.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
In the San Fernando Valley, four friends have hopes for a better life. Cole Carter (Zac Efron) wants to be a DJ, Ollie (Shiloh Fernandez) wants to be an actor, and Squirrel (Alex Shaffer) and Mason (Jonny Weston) hope to come along for the ride. The friends try to make a little money at a local nightclub, but nothing really works until Cole meets a famous DJ, James (Wes Bentley), and starts getting some expert advice. Meanwhile, the friends start working for a shady real estate broker (Jon Bernthal); at the same time, Cole becomes attracted to James' girlfriend, Sophie (Emily Ratajkowski). If he's going to be a success, Cole must learn to embrace what's real in his life and put it into his music.
Is it any good?
Zac Efron and Emily Ratajkowski are both extremely attractive people who seem better suited to modeling than acting; they give empty portrayals as empty characters in an empty film. But at least the music is good. WE ARE YOUR FRIENDS is about characters who don't really seem like they would be friends in real life. They have very little in common, and their goals are superficial: fame, fortune, and a good time.
This could have been a great party movie, if it weren't so lethargic and distracted -- or it could have been an inspirational musical, if it weren't so lifeless. It borrows just about every one of its plot twists from other movies, and even if Cole's eventual musical creation is exciting, the conceit behind it is stale. Everything rests on the shoulders of Efron, with his blank expression (he looks the same while attending a funeral and playing music), and Ratajkowski, with her posed, pursed lips. Still, it's likely that skilled actors would have made this shallow material even worse.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the alcohol, smoking, and drug use in We Are Your Friends. Are substances glamorized? What are the consequences? Are they realistic?
What did you learn about electronic music from this movie? Why is that kind of music appealing or unappealing?
How does the movie portray sex? Are partners viewed as companions, conquests, or both? Are women objectified? How? Parents, talk to your teens about your own values regarding sex and relationships.
The movie is in favor of "personal" works of art -- i.e. art in which the creator has put in his or her own experiences and feelings. Have you ever created anything that felt personal to you?
- In theaters: August 28, 2015
- On DVD or streaming: November 17, 2015
- Cast: Wes Bentley, Zac Efron, Emily Ratajkowski
- Director: Max Joseph
- Studio: Warner Bros.
- Genre: Drama
- Run time: 96 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: language throughout, drug use, sexual content and some nudity
- Last updated: November 11, 2020
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