Movie Review: “We Are Your Friends”

Zac Efron, Emily Ratajkowski, Wes Bentley, Jonny Weston, Shiloh Fernandez, Alex Shaffer, Jon Bernthal
Max Joseph

For the first third of the movie, “We Are Your Friends” suffers from the exact same problem as its protagonist: it’s trying to combine too many disparate ideas, and is a disjointed mess. When it (thankfully) jettisons the “Entourage” angle of the story, along with the Denis Leary-narrated Ford F 150-style graphics (yep, every word spoken appears on screen, multiple characters do it, and it never works), the movie finally finds its, ahem, rhythm. It turns out, “We Are Your Friends” is “Magic Mike” with turntables, right down to the party scenes oozing with so much potential disease transmission that I wanted a shot of penicillin afterwards, and I’m allergic to penicillin.

Cole (Zac Efron) is an aspiring DJ, playing early sets in the club that his friends promote in exchange for cash, free drinks and, if they play their cards right, women. One night, he opens for popular DJ James Reed (Wes Bentley), and the two wind up partying together. James sees Cole’s potential, and pushes him to come up with a track that will make his name, offering him excellent advice (and free studio time) on how he can find his voice. Cole is grateful for all of this, but it does not stop him from developing feelings for James’ much younger, live-in romantic assistant Sophie (Emily Ratajkowski), even though he knows it could jeopardize his best shot at getting to the next level. Cole is also starting to realize how unambitious his friends are, but struggles with cutting the ties.

Emily Ratajkowski has been a model since she was 14 years old, so she’s presumably seen and heard it all, but even she had to have paused for a second or two when director and co-screenwriter Max Joseph may or may not have said to her, “I’m going to shoot a couple of slow-mo bits of you dancing, and the camera is going to be focused on nothing but your rack. You’re cool with that, right?” Clearly, she was cool with that, as the scenes are here (said rack received similar attention in “Gone Girl”), but it has to be disheartening as an actress when you’re trying to build a body of work, and the director spends a substantial amount of time not focusing on your face.

One of the things “We Are Your Friends” gets right is that most kids going out into the world, especially ones that have to fend for themselves right out of high school (the audience only meets one of the boys’ parents, so they are presumably on their own), are hopelessly naïve. Any adult can anticipate 90% of the film’s plot, because they’ve been there before. Cole, on the other hand, hasn’t been there before, and Efron does a nice job of portraying that lack of experience. Unfortunately, what that makes this film is the story of a kid making mistake after mistake until he figures it out. Even the party scenes have a sadness to them, as Cole and his mates remain those immature dopes who take unspeakable jobs for cash (working for a very well-cast Jon Bernthal) so they can continue Living the Lifestyle. They’re pathetic, and that’s the point, but they’re still pathetic.

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Movie Review: “Neighbors”

Seth Rogen, Zac Efron, Rose Byrne, Dave Franco, Christopher Mintz-Plasse
Nicholas Stoller

Everything about “Neighbors” screams bro – had we been tasked with pitching the script to a producer, we would have said, “’Tin Men,’ with bros” – and then a funny thing happens: Rose Byrne comes along and wipes the floor with every man in the cast. She puts on a master class in comedy here, and in the process (unintentionally, for sure), she out-funnys the funny guy. This is okay, mind you, and in fact wouldn’t even be a problem if the movie had a coherent script, but it doesn’t. It’s a funny script, and it hits all of the right notes in the end, but the path it takes to get there is dubious, to be sure. Someone, anyone, should have gotten arrested.

New parents Mac and Kelly Radner (Seth Rogen and Byrne) have bought a new home, and love their idyllic grown-up existence. The house next door is up for sale, and to their horror, a fraternity moves in. Mac and Kelly, eager to maintain their youth while dealing with being new parents, try to play the part of the cool neighbors at first, but as the frat’s continuous late-night antics threaten to wake their baby girl, they call the police on them after their attempts to contact them go unanswered. The president of the fraternity, Ted (Zac Efron), declares war, and the two sides engage in a series of escalating stunts designed to put the other side down for good, yet they’re strangely chummy the entire time.

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Three Days in LA: A 2013 ESPY Awards adventure

LA 106

I knew it was going to be an interesting trip to Los Angeles when I met actor Colin Farrell at LAX baggage claim upon arrival. Minutes later, I bumped my shoulder into Olympic legend Michael Phelps’ tightly toned torso while wildly retrieving my luggage from the baggage carousel.

Here is the actual transcript of our meeting:

“Whoa. Hi Michael, excuse me. That bag kinda got away from me there for a second.”

“No problem, how are you?”

“I am good, nice to see you.”

Turning my attention, and body, towards the exit, I again saw Farrell, this time attempting to lay low in the shadows as people began to recognize him as “that one guy from ‘SWAT.’”

Suddenly, five punky paparazzo exploded off the elevator and surged towards the helpless Farrell, who was now pacing back and forth, alone, waiting for his luggage, while having a conversation on his cell phone that was going nowhere. He was adamant about needing a ride immediately, but his urgency was neither acknowledged nor reciprocated.

A pair of 50-something (but don’t tell them that) Latinas spotted him, exclaiming with glee to everyone within earshot that Farrell was, in fact, “right by them.”

The ladies bum rushed him and made their jerky husband take several pictures while they posed, Farrell maintaining a state of disinterest throughout the experience. 30 people stood around and watched, mouths agape.

Metaphorically, Farrell was naked in front of his high school assembly, with no publicist or agent in sight to deflect or protect, and the verbal potshots began to pile up.

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