Cole Carter (Zac Efron) needs one big track. The young DJ and party promoter lives on the wrong side of LA. And he's striving to get out of the San Fernando Valley and over the hill to Hollywood, away from the hopelessness of obscurity. But Cole and his loser buddies (Jonny Weston, Shiloh Fernandez and Alex Shaffer) are stuck, unemployed, promoting underwhelming parties, living with their parents and driving beat-up cars, all the while surrounded by the flashy success of LA's rich and famous.
But then Cole gets a little taste of fame when he meets a renowned older DJ. James (Wes Bentley) takes Cole under his wing, acting as a friend and mentor. James also introduces Cole to his girlfriend, Sophie (Emily Ratajkowski), and Cole falls for her fast. Aided by James, Cole's star rises a little. But he's still forced to join his friends working a day job for a sleazy realtor (Jon Bernthal) who rips off foreclosure victims. The attraction between Cole and Sophie gets too much and then things go off pretty much where you'd guess they would.
Directed by Max Joseph, We Are Your Friends seeks to examine the world of electronic music in LA. Efron plays a slightly bewildered Cole, and at times, you're not sure whether you really want him to triumph, or whether he really wants to either. Cole's buddies provide a few lighter moments but never manage to ascend out of the one-dimensional. Bentley's James is better, his character offers something deeper and more interesting, and you end up disliking him and wanting to know more about him at the same time.
We Are Your Friends gets lost in the periphery - the love triangle, and in themes like trying to rise above your class, and even inequality in America. Adding these elements is kind of like admitting that the music is not that interesting and needs cover if it's going to be the subject of a 90-minute film. Despite some fun moments, the film strays too far into the mundane.