In Defense Of We Are Your Friends Aka The Zac Efron DJ Movie

We Are Your Friends

Let’s go back to August 2015, shall we? Apple stock was teetering at $100, the Knicks still sucked, and I was unemployed. Oh, there was no global pandemic. More importantly, on August 28, 2015, Zac Efron shouted, “Are we ever gonna be better than this?” Five years ago, We Are Your Friends entered my life.

To some, We Are Your Friends is known as the “Zac Efron DJ Movie.” To me, We Are Your Friends is the one that got away. The film had the right ingredients to become a box office hit and cult classic. First, the film had Efron, who is aa likable of A-list star as you can get. At the time, Efron had moved on from his High School Musical days entered into millennial comedies. 2014 was a huge year for Efron as the actor starred in That Awkward Moment and Neighbors with the latter being a smash hit, earning over $270 million at the box office. Both of these movies successfully capitalized on Efron’s likability, good looks, and charismatic personality.

*Zac Efron Side Rant: Why isn’t Zac Efron the biggest star on the planet? He can do it all. He can sing, dance, and charm you to death. Plus, he’s a good looking dude (no shame). Girls love him and guys want to be home. His documentary series, Down to Earth with Zac Efron, was the second most popular show on Netflix in July. People like Efron. Many of his critics will sight his acting ability as the reason for what’s holding him back. Is Efron the next Daniel Day-Lewis? Absolutely not. However, when he’s put into movies that utilize his likability and charm like Neighbors and Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates, good things happen. Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile proved he has some dramatic chops. I’ve always said that Efron is an A-list star that’s cast in the wrong movies. There’s no reason why Efron shouldn’t be the lead in a Netflix rom-com or buddy cop movie. We as a society have failed Efron. It’s time to do better.

The premise of We Are Your Friends was promising. Four friends from the San Fernando Valley trying to make it in the world isn’t an idea that reinvents the wheel, but I’m always intrigued by coming-of-age stories. However, following a DJ (Efron’s Cole Carter) as he navigates the EDM-scene in Los Angeles is an idea I haven’t’ seen before so We Are Your Friends had my interest from the start.

The film also surrounded Efron with successful character actors and cultural stars. Wes Bentley and Jon Berenthal are interesting character actors that have been in huge movies like The Wolf of Wall Street, American Beauty, Interstellar, and Ford v Ferrari. Though she had little acting experience, Emily Ratajkowski was a red-hot cultural figure thanks to appearances in the music video for “Blurred Lines” and the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issues. Plus, in a film about house music, the soundtrack has a few songs that are worthy of a spot on everyone’s pregame playlist.

What I’m trying to say is We Are Your Friends had the right formula in place. It had an A-list star, a promising idea, and a supporting cast of good actors and famous figures. I rewatched We Are Your Friends a few weeks ago on Netflix. I had a blast. The first hour was enjoyable and flat out fun. Between the four friends spitting jokes at one another to Efron’s PCP trip, the film didn’t take itself too seriously, which was its strength. It was a free-flowing coming-of-age comedy that made you want to party, get drunk, and dance. I’m not alone when I say that Efron’s performance is underrated. Watching him electrify the crowd and sway Ratajkowski reminded me of all the things I love about Efron. Frankly, Efron really tried to make this work and for me, his performance is the highlight of the film. In fact, the Hollywood Reporter named Efron’s performance as one of their favorites from 2015.

Unfortunately, not everyone shares my praise for Efron’s DJ movie. To say that We Are Your Friends did not connect with audiences is an understatement. In fact, I may have been the only person in America to see it in theaters. The film had one of the worst box office openings of all time with $1.8 million. I didn’t expect the film to bomb that badly, but I wasn’t expecting a huge box office success because of its release date. For a film geared toward the millennial audience, the end of August release date was a death sentence. Why would you release a movie geared toward high school and college students on a weekend where many of them were going back to school? If a college kid has the choice between drinking on the beach or going to the movie theater, they’re going to choose the beach ten out of ten times. I have no doubt in my mind that if this film comes out in 2020, it debuts on Netflix and becomes a massive hit.

Though the release date did the film no favors, my biggest problem with We Are Your Friends is its shift in tone three-quarters of the way in. We’re all having a good time until Squirrel died. I will never understand why the film decided to kill Squirrel. There was absolutely no reason for the movie to shift from a fun-loving comedy to a serious drama. It was an unnecessary decision that killed the film’s momentum. If the film wanted to shake things up, why not just have Squirrel overdose and go to the hospital? Then, you could have had the dinner scene between Squirrel and Cole take place in a hospital room. You still get your redemption arc without using an unnecessary death to motivate Cole in the last scene.

Despite the film’s problems, I will go to bat for We Are Your Friends. Give it another try and watch it with some friends. Laugh, don’t cry and enjoy Efron in his glory.

Do you like We Are Your Friends? Leave your thoughts in the comments below or tweet us, @unafraidshow.

What Movies Do You Love That People Hate?

Fear and John Carter

The “Good-Bad Movie” is a special piece of art. Sometimes, a movie can be so bad that it’s actually good. Other times, it feels as if you’re the only person in the world who loves and appreciates the true meaning of the film. In fact, these movies may not bad at all and receive unnecessary hate.

Not every movie can be The Godfather and that’s okay. I love plenty of movies that people hate. I call these my guilty pleasures. There’s no better feeling than flipping through the channels and picking up one of these movies during a great scene. This is exactly why I love cable and haven’t cut the cord. Loving certain movies that most people hate makes me feel part of an exclusive club. It’s like wearing a badge of honor, or from the opposite viewpoint, a badge of dishonor.

It’s more fun to embrace hatred than join the crowd. Here are some of the movies I love that people hate.

We Are Your Friends

I will go to battle for We Are Your Friends. In fact, I’m going to write an entire article on this film for its five-year anniversary next week. I’ll only touch on the “Zac Efron DJ movie.” I rewatched this movie for the first time the other night and I had an absolute blast. The first hour is so funny and enjoyable. From the soundtrack to the core group of friends, this film made me want to book a flight to California and eat sushi in the San Fernando Valley. Efron is such a charismatic guy. We know he’s A-list but still seems like an approachable and relatable guy. I’m arguably one of the only humans to see We Are Your Friends, one biggest box office bombs ever, in theaters. I had the same reaction in the theater as I did last Friday night. Once this movie decided to take itself seriously, it lost its magic. Killing Squirrel was the film’s downfall. Take out Squirrel’s death and the film becomes a staple in every college house in America.


Before Mark Wahlberg became the guy who does his job, he was an up-and-coming actor trying to distance himself from a rap career. After playing the bad boy in Basketball Diaries, Wahlberg went full stalker and pyscho in Fear, one of my guilty pleasures. Wahlberg plays David McCall, the mysterious older boy who dates Nicole Walker, played by a young Reese Witherspoon. Fear is a teenage erotic thriller that steals a few pages from Fatal Attraction and Basic Instinct. As evidenced by the gif, the film gets pretty ridiculous at times. However, Wahlberg’s over-the-top performance is why I keep coming back. At the very least, you can watch a film with two actors, Wahlberg and Witherspoon, who would dominate Hollywood in the future. My only advice: Do NOT watch this movie with your parents. If they stick around, tell them to walk out of the room when David and Nicole go on the roller coaster. You’ll never hear “Wild Horses” the same way again.

John Carter


Do you remember John Carter from 2012? It was supposed to be the next big franchise from Disney. It was supposed to be Taylor Kitsch’s entry into movie stardom as the Friday Night Lights alum traded a helmet and case of beer for superhuman strength and jumping. If the main character in Avatar stayed in his human form while receiving alien powers, the result would be John Carter. Not only did John Carter become one of the biggest box office bombs ever, but it nearly killed Kitsch due to the strenuous filming schedule. The only similarity John Carter has to Avatar is its price tag with a rumored cost of $350 million. The plot is flimsy, and frankly, loses its way especially in the second act. John Carter is not Citizen Kane, but it’s not as bad as its reputation makes it seem. Kitsch unfairly received the majority of the blame for the movie’s failure when in actuality, he gives a believable performance as a grieving war veteran who accidentally becomes a hero to a new world. Our guy Tim Riggins deserves better from us. Next time you have a chance to watch Kitsch save the kingdoms of Barsoom, give it a shot.

Dances with Wolves

Hear me out. If Dances with Wolves doesn’t beat Goodfellas for Best Picture, fewer people hate it. Goodfellas is the defining moment of Martin Scorsese’s illustrious career. It’s my favorite mafia/gangster movie ever and Scorsese should have walked away from the Oscars with Best Director and Best Picture. Instead, Kevin Costner’s directorial debut took home the top prizes of the night. Dances with Wolves is very long. There are multiple scenes that showcase Costner’s ability to shave and tidy up around the house. But, it’s an astounding epic western with beautiful cinematography. The plot is simple, but Costner’s attention to detail and visual direction elevates the film to grand heights. At a time when westerns were nowhere to be found, Dances with Wolves helped revitalize the genre. If you’ll excuse me, I have some buffalo to catch.

What movies do you love that people hate? Leave your thoughts in the comments below or tweet us, @unafraidshow.