'We Are Your Friends' the EDM movie hits Rock Bottom

Posted at September 1st, 2015 | by Sidhantha Jain | in

In my opinion, ‘We Are Your Friends’ is the worst thing that has happened to electronic dance music since Paris Hilton! Starring the ‘High School Musical’ star Zac Efron, gorgeous Emily Ratajkowski and talented Wes Bentley in lead roles, the EDM-themed romantic drama debuted this Friday (28-8-15), and it seems as though (keep aside teenage girls) people just weren’t interested in this Max Joseph film!
 
Released in 2,333 locations across North America with a $6 million budget, it nabbed an appallingly low opening weekend income of $1.8 million, which is worse than Eddie Murphy’s notorious flop The Adventures of Pluto Nash! Going by the numbers, the movie has done so poorly that it has taken the title of the worst opening of all time for a major studio release in over 2,000 theatres, recovering roughly $772 from each venue.
 
Also known as the Zac Efron DJ Movie or as EDM followers (including me) like to address it; ‘How to Piss Off An Entire Genre of Music Fans,’ it taps into the youth culture precisely pertaining to the world of dance music, it captures the journey of Cole Carter (the DJiest name ever) played by Zac, everywhere from parties to clubs and festivals and portraying typical problems encountered by any wanna-be music producer trying to sleep with a friend’s girlfriend and struggling on to take life defining decisions, ultimately summing up with him being guided onto the path of success shown by his mentor James Reed (Wes Bentley).
 
Rotten Tomatoes gave this 90 minute Warner Bros movie a critical approval rating of 43%, based on 99 reviews, with an average rating of 5.1/10. On Metacritic, the film has a score of 46 out of 100, based on 32 critics, indicating “mixed or average reviews”. According to CinemaScore, audiences gave the film a grade of “C+” on an A+ to F scale. (No dairy milk, Pappu fail ho gaya!)
The Vice President of domestic distribution Jeff Goldstein attempted to explain the dismal results: “This was a passion project for Zac Efron, and we believe in him. Yes, the result was disappointing, but this was a small film.”

 

But the real question is how and more importantly why did the much awaited (for whatever reason) piece fail?

 

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Plot: As discussed above, it’s all about a washed up DJ and his potential girlfriend working their way through with a clueless DJ to try and make it big as an EDM superstar playing at some mainstream festival. It completely romanticizes the idea of EDM, leaving out the real intricacies and killing its credibility.

 

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Marketing: Warner Bros, arguably the biggest producers in Hollywood, missed out on a golden opportunity to create a market for it within the dance music industry. They could have sponsored a WAYF stage at Tomorrowland, maybe a special trailer unveiling at Ultra or at least handing out flyers during EDC Las Vegas! Even thought the hit-factory was making something “new,” they stuck to the same model of marketing using TV and Internet ads.
 
Female protagonist: In a movie that doesn’t exactly challenge the bro-heavy demographics of EDM culture, Emily Ratajkowski‘s presence boils down to fill the “have to have sexy” void. Apart from looking sexy (of course, that’s why she was hired) her job is to ensure that James and Cole’s friendship eventually turns sour with lust and betrayal. Having no other front running women represent anything significant, other than bikini bods, lots of them, it completely marks itself sexist representation of the industry.

 

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(She featured in music video of Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines)
 
Interpretation: Well, the makers of the film have particularly succeeded in offending half (Disney fans Vs. EDM fans) of its possible audience by depicting “keep partying for no reason” relevance in the scene and including dialogues like ‘to succeed as a DJ, “all you need is a laptop, some talent and one track”’ (It’s two-edged sword, haha). Intensifying the hate, Zac Efron, Ratajkowski, and director Max Joseph, claimed to be ambassadors for EDM during the cast interviews, further alienating themselves from the community!

 

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Release: Also, as per the American routine, the film came out on the worst weekend possible for its target audience. Asking college students to give up even 90 minutes on their first weekend of college for a film they were already partially disinterested in was probably the telltale sign that WB had zero faith in this film and wanted to bury it as quickly as possible.

 

Music: This aspect we expected to at par with our expectations if not beyond. Matthew Simpson, popularly recognised by his stage name, Segal, composed the pulsating main score, abetted by a steady, wide-ranging flow of pop, trap, hip-hop, house and other selections supervised by Randall Poster, but for all the considerable musical talent on display, it’s less a failure of taste or technique than of simple storytelling imagination that never really takes hold of your nervous system. What’s missing here is not just a more out-of-the-box approach, but a more adventurous sense of style required for a movie falling in the “music” category.

 

Calvin Harris (“Oh c’mon man, he’s hotter than Zac Efron” – my girlfriend): Hilarious cameos are made by Dillon Francis and Alesso while Nicky Romero appears as guest star, lack of proper support from anyone in the dance music industry also contributed to a bit grilling it received from social media users, including celebrities like deadmau5, The Chainsmokers etc.
 
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No matter how badly the movie was received, at least two people were really excited to catch the premiere; Zac’s Grandma and Grandpa.

 

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Here’s the trailer, in case you wanted to know why you’re also not going to watch ‘We Are Your Friends’ (if it ever gets released across the Indian subcontinent) or even download it legally (sadly, torrents are partially blocked):
 

Sidhantha Jain

I love EDM, it loves me back. It pays for my food bills.

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