Zac Efron is no stranger to movie musicals, but We Are Your Friends is a totally different beast: It's a movie about music—and it's definitely not kid-friendly.
Efron plays Cole Carter, an aspiring DJ with dreams of making it big in the EDM (electronic dance music) world. A successful but troubled DJ, played by Wes Bentley, takes Efron under his wing, but things get tricky when the mentee falls for the mentor's girlfriend, played by Emily Ratajkowski. Efron is also challenged by his ties to his childhood crew-turned-collaborates—played by Jonny Weston, Shiloh Fernandez and Alex Shaffer.
We Are Your Friends is a drama with flares of romance and comedy, and for those not up on the world of EDM, it provides a bit of an introduction to a particular culture surrounding club music. But as Vanity Fair's Richard Lawson points out, it's a bit like Magic Mike—probably darker than expected, "only perhaps a bit bleaker, even" than Channing Tatum's 2012 film.
The Hollywood Reporter's Jon Frosch also notes the film's "unsavory trappings—namely drugs and shady money-making schemes." He acknowldeges that with its "bro-y banter, gyrating bodies and soundtrack of melodic hooks set to skipping, skittering beats, the movie will not be to everyone's taste."
Ultimately, though, Frosch concludes We Are Your Friends "is that increasingly rare thing: a genuine feel-good movie."
Katherine McLaughlin of ListFilm seems to agree, writing that although We Are Your Friends follows "a corny narrative," it turns out to be "charmingly sincere as it rummages around the realms of youthful possibility, emerging with the kind of altered perspective that comes with age."
We Are Your Friends, directed by Max Joseph, hits theaters Friday.