Film Review: We Are Your Friends

by Evan Brown

Rated M. Starring Zac Efron, Emily Ratajkowski, Wes Bentley. Directed by Max Joseph.

“The World is Yours”

It was only yesterday that I was sitting on the lawn of my church sharing lunch with a good friend that the topic of this film came up in conversation.  She expressed her excitement to see it, not because Zac Efron is in it (well maybe a little bit), but because “it looks like a film that finally represents our generation”.

As I thought about her statement for a minute, I realised that what she was talking about is the misrepresentation that our generation seems to have received.  A generation that has been so quickly labeled as the hashtag generation, the fairytale generation, the entitled generation, or even the lazy generation.  Unfortunately the title quote of the film – “The World is Yours” – seems to already paint this generation as self-entitled, and I hoped for her sake and my sake (even my generation’s sake) that this film would put us in a different light.  Perhaps Zac Efron could be this generation’s Everyman or perhaps he could be the epitome of laziness and self-centeredness that society has already labeled us to be.

We Are Your Friends follows Cole Carter (Efron) an aspiring DJ and his three best friends – who all share the dream to become rich and famous.  They live in the Valley of Los Angeles desperate to get out and they love to party on the Hollywood strip.  Their days are devoted to sleeping, drinking, clubbing, pinging and sitting around their pool complaining about life.  Carter has a regular Thursday night gig on the strip getting paid in “exposure” dollars and by chance Carter meets the famous DJ James Reid (Bentley) out the back of the club. Reid takes pity on him and decides to take Carter under his wing and train him in the skills and knowledge of the industry.

What a nice guy! As Carter spends more time with Reid he finds himself on a self-discovering journey tackling the issues of abandonment of friends, of love, and being true to himself and his music.  However, the more time Carter spends with Reid the more he realises that he is in love with Reid’s girlfriend (Ratajkowski) and if he acts on these feelings disaster would surely follow and destroy all life’s progress.

What I liked about We Are Your Friends is that it’s a little bit of everything – it’s a little bit indie, satirical, humorous, tragic and romantic… (Who would have thought Troy from High School Musical could be so deep?).  At first the concoction of themes seemed confusing, however as the film progressed I found myself soaking it all in and enjoying the journey of Carter’s battle with life.  Instead of the over glamorization of this generation, director Max Joseph manages to portray this generation in a more real and sombre light showing the consequences of a life dedicated to self-entitlement, drinking and partying.  Throughout the film the question “Are we ever going to be better than this?” is cried out by Carter and his boys who are now dealing with the issue of reality and the consequences of their lifestyle choices – a reality that is so far from their dream.

I remember one night quite distinctively whilst my dad was tutoring me in HSC chemistry, he put down his pen and glasses and said something extremely profound – “I don’t care what you do when you grow up, as long as you love Jesus.” Instead of giving me the speech about how I could be anything I wanted and what great things would come my way my dad put the truth down.

He understood that I was made to be “better than this”: to not love the passing world but to put my meaning in God, he knew that I was God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works that God had prepared beforehand (Ephesians 2:10).  Unfortunately as a wild and audacious teenager my response did not reciprocate my dad’s wisdom where I answered, “Dad, rockstars can love Jesus too”.  I got a clip on the ear for that one.

“Are we ever going to be better than this?” could be seen as the cry of the hashtag generation as we come to terms with the fact that reality is not what we expected or were promised growing up.  As Christians we already know we are better than this, through Jesus Christ our saviour- how great is that?!

We Are Your Friends is an honest yet fun representation of our generation although it may not be the representation you were expecting. Go check it out – it’s good. I’m giving it three-and-a-half stars out of five.

We Are Your Friends will be released worldwide later this week.

For more film reviews from a Christian perspective, connect with Reel Gospel on Facebook and Twitter.

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