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Aug 30th
02:42 am
#WAYF Reviews  
Positive End of Spectrum

THR
That brings us to Efron, who has overcome distractingly dreamy looks and that sticky High School Musical stigma to become a credible leading man — with none of the convulsive Method fussiness of some of his peers — and an asset to most of his projects (from auteur-driven works like Richard Linkater’s Me and Orson Welles, Lee Daniels’ The Paperboy and Rahmin Bahrani’s At Any Price to mainstream fare like Hairspray and Neighbors). Efron moves and speaks with the easy grace of the beautiful, but there’s a naturalness, a lack of vanity or self-consciousness, to his acting. In We Are Your Friends, he underplays to perfection, putting us on Cole's side without pandering.

Variety
Still, there’s no denying that the star’s hard-to-resist appeal will draw mainstream eyes and ears to a picture that would rather spin an accessible underdog yarn than tap into the more resonant specifics of its milieu.

Still, it’s hard to scoff too long or too hard at Efron, an infernally watchable screen presence who has never needed a drum machine to make your heart throb, and whose effortless eye-candy presence here has just the right level of dramatic reverb. He and Bentley achieve a believable rapport — by turns realistically tetchy and mutually protective — and you long for their characters to veer away from the conventional trappings of rivalry and conflict, and instead to find a tougher, less tidy emotional core.

AP
Regardless of your taste for pulsing electronic music or actor Zac Efron, both are undeniably appealing in this feature debut from director and co-writer Max Joseph. [...] And Efron brings such heart to the main character, he's easy to root for.

Efron brings warm accessibility to Cole. Ratajkowski is so beautiful, she'd devour her scenes even if she said nothing at all (which she almost does). If only young-adult angst really looked and sounded this good.

Vanity Fair
Zac Efron hurts so good. Wait. Let me rephrase that so it doesn’t sound dirty. What I mean is, Zac Efron, an actor of seemingly limited range, has some innate, wholly beguiling quality about him that tends to only come to the surface when whatever character he’s playing is suffering. In Charlie St. Cloud and The Lucky One, those glass-blue eyes of his positively glowed, all watery and sad, and emotions those movies weren’t otherwise able to conjure up were suddenly present, immediate, affecting. And in Neighbors, all of Efron’s cocky frat-boy swagger couldn’t mask an intriguing darkness, a deep pain mingling fascinatingly with anger, which Efron best communicated through mere changes in facial expression and posture. Perhaps in response to his almost laughable, cartoonish good looks, Efron has become an adept physical actor; with his dancer’s grace and smoldering, melancholy gazes, there is—and I realize this is sort of ridiculous to say—an air of Buster Keaton about him.

One problem with Neighbors was that it required too much of the less captivating side of Efron: the jovial, good-times persona that always seems forced. But in his latest film, the D.J.-ing drama (and yes, it really is a drama) We Are Your Friends, Efron gets to spend the bulk of his time looking hungry and despondent, a look that’s good on him, that really works. The Efron factor, and the film’s confident sense of style, make We Are Your Friends, directed by Max Joseph, co-host and cameraman for the Catfish TV series, a more than interesting late-August curio; a sad, millennial meditation on ambition and aimlessness.

We Are Your Friends is similar, only perhaps a bit bleaker, even, with drugs and death blurting into the story, and Efron’s curious, fascinating performance at the center. We Are Your Friends is fun, but it thrums in lower frequencies than one might expect, based on the trailers, anyway.

Efron plays that inner yearning without too many big strokes—often hamstrung by his theater-y cadence and delivery, Efron has learned to get quieter, to put those oft-commented-about features of his to good use. Cole’s ache grows in tandem with the movie’s intensity, until he finally reaches something like that moment of nirvana. But in that moment, instead of giving us something cornily triumphant, with a lot of fist pumping and self-satisfied grins, Cole cries. Efron cries.

Village Voice
Yet Efron, one of our best young actors, gives the movie more than it needs: if not quite gravitas, an emotional tempo. Forget Ratajkowski's x-rayed mammaries — it's Efron who's all heart. Even when he smiles, his blue eyes look like they're leaking tears.

At his lowest point, what a DJ would call The Drop, Cole confesses to James that he might be a bad person. But, like Braddock, he's a buoyant screw-up — the audience is on his side even if the film isn't.

Time Out
Cole just wants to express himself, and Efron taps into the same sad tenderness that made him such a tragicomic revelation in Neighbors.

Red Eye Chicago
Part of that is the inspired casting of Efron, whose natural sincerity turns what could have been douche-y into the uncertain longing of a nice guy comfortable to be that way in an industry that often isn’t.

Chicago Tribune
Efron brings his gorgeous, bright-eyed wonder to the role of Cole, who seems constantly surprised by the world around him, observing it with a renewed, child-like zeal when he discovers the organic origins of his computer music. It never seems like he will get sucked into the darkness of this world because his aura is too bright.

News.com.au
To his credit, Efron (who is yet to ever put in a truly bad one, it must be said) contributes a solid portrayal of Cole, a cool kid from the uncool side of the tracks desperate to mark his mark on the cutthroat club scene in Los Angeles.

Seattle Times
Efron is excellent in the central role, sensitive and confident, with his movie-star good looks shown to best advantage in his moments of repose.

Den of Geek
Earnest and heartfelt but never naïve, the superb performances of the cast (Efron, Bentley and Emily Ratajkowski in particular) bringing it fiercely to life.

The Daily Beast
Its stars approach the material with honesty and curiosity, especially the ever-reliable Zac Efron and his costar Emily Ratajkowski.

NY Daily News
Zac Efron finds a good beat as young, nice-guy DJ Cole Carter in “We Are Your Friends.”

Rolling Stone
What helps are Efron's low-key charm, Bentley's ability to cut below the surface, and music supervisor Randall Poster's skill at laying on the sounds, including the main score by Segal.

NY Post
Joseph also coaxes superb work out of all three leads: Efron, who has rarely before been accused of being interesting, this time sagely underplays his role. Yet Efron pinpoints that youthful, possibly delusional, hunger for greatness balanced by a fragile self-doubt.

CinemaBlend
In its defense, it’s really difficult to make DJing look physically dramatic on camera, let alone emotional. But, damn it, Zac Efron tries his hardest. The film centers on Cole, and without Efron in the role, everything would fall apart.

At the end of the day, you’re seeing this movie for Zac Efron. There’s something about this 27-year-old that makes audiences fall in love with him. Maybe it’s his chiseled physique, his stupidly handsome Ken doll face, his cutesy blue eyes, his charisma, or a combination of it all. If it wasn’t for his presence in the lead role, taking us through this movie, I’m not convinced there’d be that much appeal. The only moment when I finally had enough of watching him was at the end, after the story all somehow magically works out for everyone, and Cole is on stage DJing at a major music festival. He plays his track filled with the sounds of spinning quarters, wind chimes, and his buddy’s voice, and he’s rocking out as dramatically as he can. To that, I have to say, I am not your friend.

The Kansas City Star
As former teen idols go, Zac Efron is underrated. He can sing and dance (the “High School Musical” trilogy), be funny (“17 Again”) or quite frightening (“Neighbors”). Now in “We Are Your Friends,” the 27-year-old proves he can portray aimless angst with sincerity.

ELLE
Zac Efron and Andrew Garfield Shine in Two of This Season's Must-See Films… A glossy, shamelessly commercial-looking but somehow consistently endearing coming-of-age tale about Cole Carter (the always smartly alert, sexually smoldering, and big-hearted Zac Efron), a sapling of a man determined to make it as a DJ in the macho, sink-or-swim world of electronic dance music (EDM). Despite all the glitz and hard-sell atmospherics of the L.A. EDM scene that the movie lays out, Efron (and this is the secret sauce of his star power) keeps us believing in Carter's core integrity and dignity.

Toronto Sun
Still, We Are Your Friends is engaging and the cast does a good job. Efron is understated and believable as a determined, blue-collar kid whose ambition has isolated him.

Herald Sun
To his credit, Efron (who is yet to ever put in a truly bad one, it must be said) contributes a solid portrayal of Cole, a cool kid from the uncool side of the tracks desperate to mark his mark on the cutthroat club scene in Los Angeles.

SF Gate
Efron is another strength. He has that Tom Cruise/Sandra Bullock ability to make audiences identify with his character and root for a positive result, even if his actions don’t always merit a happy ending. Efron and Bentley develop a believable chemistry, feeding off each other as Cole learns to become a more organic DJ and James tries to get his groove back.

Vulture
Efron is his blank-faced self for most of the film. In previous movies, that placid, angel-eyed expression has been either his great failing or his great asset. Emotions, when he tries to express them in his roles, tend to come off as insincere. This lent That Awkward Moment an extra level of creepiness that felt wrong for a romantic comedy; but it worked extremely well in Neighbors, playing off against Seth Rogen’s accelerating agitation. Here, it feels at first like a mistake: There’s actually a brief animated sequence at one point, when Cole is tripping on PCP, and the animated Zac Efron seems to have more range than the real Zac Efron. But it turns out that’s part of the plan — or at least, it appears to be. Cole has to do a lot of reflecting and reacting in the film, as he absorbs both James’s lessons and the missteps of his own life. By the end, when our hero finally cuts loose, the whole movie comes together. I couldn’t help but smile.

Screenrant
Zac Efron is a charming and likable leading man – which is fortunate, because Cole is a vaguely shaped character at best, and a grossly undercooked protagonist, at worst.

ScreenDaily
But even an empathetic performance from Zac Efron (and an impressive, nuanced turn from Wes Bentley) can’t distract from a movie that mistakes surface flash for probing, zeitgeist-y insights.

To his credit, Efron, who’s shown a self-mocking sense of humour about his good looks and shapely abs in comedies like Neighbours, tries to locate the restlessness and artistry within Cole. But that effort doesn’t mean much when his character’s journey is such a familiar one: To find his voice, Cole must stop imitating others and, instead, speak from the heart. That’s a platitude so mouldy that no amount of sincerity or skill can justify.

Slant Magazine
Efron, breaking from the tightly coiled fratboy routine that made his performance in Neighbors a bit of a fascination, underplays Cole. There's a bland determination to shots of him composing at his laptop, a dutiful charm as he hangs out shirtless with his friends, and a lurking sadness in his glassy blue eyes. He dances like a DJ, watchfully and with a studied, graceful caution. When We Are Your Friends becomes, at once, self-serious, dully predictable, and pointedly self-questioning, Efron's distanced countenance emerges as a portrait of a young man overwhelmed by the diverging avenues toward success.

Empire Online
Zac Efron makes a convincing bid for movie stardom.

Buzzfeed
Efron’s frat-boy earnestness gives Cole, a character who wants only to clamber his way out of the San Fernando Valley and to the status of top-tier DJ, an unforced sweetness, while the movie’s modest aims mold themselves comfortably around Efron’s actorly skill set. We Are Your Friends turns out to be one of those matches of performer and project that bring out the best qualities in each other.

USA Today
While mixing sounds nerdily hard on his computer, Efron works his charisma like a champ as the good-hearted Cole — too much at times, actually, as the niceness and occasional quoting of Emerson bury a few of his more important flaws.

Deadline
Efron is quite good and believable and the best sequence in the film has him showing the passion and the process of creating this unique form of music. Director Max Joseph uses lots of graphic devices including animation (during a drug trip where paintings seem to come alive) and fancy visual tricks to keep the audience engaged.

Independent
The likeable Efron captures his character's ambition, yearning and rebelliousness, but the film sometimes risks seeming like an artier (but equally preening and narcissistic) version of Entourage.

Movizark
Performance wise, Zac Efron leads the way! With last year’s Neighbors, Efron proved how far he has come from High School Musical days. He is just in terrific form here. Although the character is slightly generic, he is warm and engaging in the lead role as Cole; he quickly gets audience sympathy on his side and, even though he loses it at times, he quickly gains it back.

Hayes At The Movies
Although the character is slightly generic, Zac Efron is warm and engaging in the lead role as Cole; he quickly gets audience sympathy on his side and, even though he loses it at times, he quickly gains it back.

Screenrelish
The film boasts some decent cast performances with former teen heartthrob Zac Efron playing aspiring DJ Cole Carter. Efron actually tones down his leading man presence for the role, which is refreshing and surprisingly effective.

New In Cinema
In ‘We Are Your Friends’, this protagonist is Cole Carter (Zac Efron, in an effortlessly great performance that is easily the highlight of the movie).

Make The Switch
Zac Efron is a little wasted in this film - yes, say what you will, but I actually happen to believe he has some true talent as an actor. He plays things light and breezy, and does so well, but he easily could have had a little more meat to sink his teeth into.

An Online Universe
Efron is a charismatic performer with more range than many give him credit for. He’s completely suited to this character and convincing as a DJ.

The Hollywood News
It’s brilliantly paced and has some really great acting talent on display. Efron is superb as the film’s lead, a more serious role for the young actor following comedic stints

News Tribune
Efron is excellent in the central role, sensitive and confident, with his movie-star good looks shown to best advantage in his moments of repose.

The Olympian
Efron is excellent in the central role, sensitive and confident, with his movie-star good looks shown to best advantage in his moments of repose.

Now Toronto
Efron’s a good fit for the role of the wide-eyed, impressionable hero.

Fort-Worth Star-Telegram/dfw.com
Efron acquits himself well here as a DJ.

Directors Cut Movies
The real star of this movie is Zac Efron, and I'm glad that's not a joke. He's excellent in the role, creating a believable character in a believable world, even if half of his lines are absolutely cringe worthy.

The Edinburgh Reporter
A real shame, considering the cast does a swell job, particularly Efron who’s slowly edging into better roles with this as a silly setback.

Film Racket
Thing is, there’s a lot of good here, from the surprising performances to the filmmakers’ compulsion for sensory exploration.

Newsday
It has energy, a surfeit of personality -- courtesy of the very capable Efron, Emily Ratajkowski and a marvelous Wes Bentley.

Directors Cut Movies
The real star of this movie is Zac Efron, and I'm glad that's not a joke. He's excellent in the role, creating a believable character in a believable world, even if half of his lines are absolutely cringe worthy.

Little White Lies
Disposable portrait of an EDM artist in ascent with a very genial Zac Efron in the lead. It’s not a right-off by any means, with Efron himself carrying the film on his rippling shoulders.

Toronto Paradise
Zac Efron is completely believable when running through the town with his friends causing trouble, wanting to be the life of the party but soon enough things take a strange turn and the impossible happens.

Escapist Magazine
As that DJ, Zac Efron does a good job, filling Cole with sincerity and a touch of sadness. Efron hasn't exactly had a great career so far, only having maybe three genuinely good performances, but this might be the best one to-date, even though the bar isn't particularly high.

Feel in Fuzzier
A lot of this appeal can be attributed to the cool cast; Efron suits the role of aspiring DJ well, complete with manscaped physique, gelled-hair and expensive headphones. His performance is pretty good as well, especially when the film gets to the grittier, more serious final third. Where the film suffers is in the drippy middle section where Efron is tasked with courting Emily Ratajkowski's impossibly gorgeous but also awkwardly wooden, Sophie.

Irish Times
Efron is convincing as a young man who fears the break may never come.

Toronto Star
The cast is uniformly good, especially Efron and Bentley as collaborators on the dance floor but rivals in the bedroom.

Stuff.co.nz
On the plus side though, Efron (The Lucky One), rocking a succession of t-shirts and singlets, is both a likeable enough lead and plausible enough DJ

Frontrow Magazine
For his part, Efron is convincing enough as a fledgling artist caught between his past and his future.

Mark Reviews Movies
It might sound cheesy, yet Efron's performance and Joseph's communication of these ideas are too sincerely felt for it not to work on some level.

Hearts and Essex Observer
Efron plies his usual boyish good looks and charm as a counterpoint to Bentley's world-weary EDM veteran.

HC Movie Reviews
Zac Efron was convincing at all times even though he has admitted that he can’t DJ and his fellow cast members always matched him in terms of their performances.

Charlie Juhl
Efron ably carries the film and comes off far less obnoxious than his frat boy persona in 2014’s Neighbors. Cole and that particular frat boy president probably would not get along very well. Both characters drink and smoke their fair share, but Cole has ambition and quests for the purity of artistic achievement; perhaps he is hunting for good will?

Bullz-Eye
Cole, on the other hand, hasn’t been there before, and Efron does a nice job of portraying that lack of experience.

The Telegraph
Efron is an actor who’s supremely comfortable in his environment – he’s always hoisting himself up on walls and swinging around on bars – and the creative ease of his movement has made him fun to watch in every film he’s made, from the High School Musical trilogy to Lee Daniels’ The Paperboy, and even this. But his character here is, sad to say, a bit of a nitwit.

Beliefnet
Efron is, as always, an appealing actor.

Blisspop
Cole, played with boyish ease by Zac Efron

Christie Lemire
Efron, though, is easy to underestimate because he’s so damn pretty. He’s made eclectic choices in recent years (“Neighbors,” “The Paperboy”) which simultaneously showcase and subvert his looks. His character here isn’t so deeply drawn as others he’s played post-“High School Musical,” but Efron makes the arc believable. Both his cockiness and his comeuppance seem effortless.

Lifezette
Still, Efron captures the alienation of a young man torn between hedonistic pleasures and growing up. He may not look the part — he’s too pretty and perfectly coiffed to resemble a budding anarchist. The actor flashes a sensitivity that will surprise viewers.


So-So

WGTC
None of the downfalls have much to do with Efron, whose (surprisingly hidden) chiseled form is perfect for every DJ’s go-to outfit of a tank top and shorts. He’s got the physique of a West Coast jockey, and the minimal qualifications to operate a playlist. But kidding aside, the spiky-haired fist-pumper actually conveys a vested interest in the rhythmic hypnosis of EDM music, and his mid-set instructional talks provide momentary depth into the art of (electronically) spinning tracks.

The Playlist
Efron does his best selling Cole’s internal awakenings, but the character is so thinly drawn that he comes across as a good kid who’s having the time of his life and, despite his mistakes, destined to come out on top. At least Efron is charismatic, however, which is more than can be said about his trio of buddies [...]

Mercury News
Efron glides by on his charisma as Cole, a 23-year-old San Fernando Valley guy stuck in a bad groove while hoping to become the next big-name DJ.

Sydney Morning Herald
As a screen presence, Zac Efron is full of intriguing contradictions: the clean-cut beefcake look, the capacity to seem sly, vulnerable and inscrutable all at once.

Uproxx
Zac Efron is tolerable as Cole Carter

Chicago Sun-Times
Zac Efron, who always looks so shiny and buff on screen (Seth Rogen once said, “I marvel at the fact we’re literally the same species”), turns in his usual capable if not particularly riveting performance as our hero. Efron isn’t exactly Ryan Gosling when it comes to having the chops, but he’s a comfortable presence onscreen.

Las Vegas Weekly
Efron is affable but not particularly believable as a talented musician

Boston Globe
It’s easier to care about Efron’s Cole if only because he’s so darn cute, and he’s trying so hard, onscreen and in his career. Personally, I like the kid; any former Disney Channel star willing to be peed on by Nicole Kidman in “The Paperboy” is ready to go the distance to separate himself from the ranks of Troy Donahue/Bobby Sherman/Joey Lawrence/[insert your generational teen idol here]. Yes, it’s weird seeing the “High School Musical” heartthrob wigging out on club drugs, about which “We Are Your Friends” is both refreshingly realistic and awfully cavalier. But the filmmakers do honor Efron’s contract with his core audience. There’s a scene where Cole takes his shirt off, and it’s a Moment.

NYT
This is not the fault of its stars; Mr. Efron and Mr. Bentley do what they can with the material.

Punch Drunk Critics/Examiner
Unfortunately, Cole's aspirations never come across as fully formed, and any roadblocks in his way don't seem to have much of an impact. He's just (sic) that well-drawn of a character, this despite Efron doing his best to express Cole's inner life. Efron's Adonis good looks continue to be his greatest asset, but he's developed into a capable leading man deserving of better material than this script provides.

Forbes
To begin with some faint praise for the little that does work, many of the performers do well with what they’re given. Efron isn’t really challenged to be much more than attractive, hip, and mildly emotive when personal desires are at the forefront of the story, so as a talented performer he does fine with that. But it’s a performance that for the most part feels empty of emotion, as if he’s sleepwalking through the story most of the time.

LA Times
Efron, who has long-since proved himself a capable actor, can only do so much with the material here.

One Guy's Opinion
As for Efron, he suffers mightily—so much that at times you think he might be feeling the effects of a persistent stomach ailment. At least he gets to relax somewhat in his scenes with Ratajkowski, although in those he shifts into puppy-dog demeanor reminiscent of his “High School Musical” days.

Reel Views
For Zac Efron, this is the latest in a line of attempts to gain credibility as a serious actor; the stigma of being a Disney idol has clung tenaciously to his reputation. His performance is okay but he's too low-key to leave an impression.

DCW50
Then, Efron has the same problem of only shining occasionally. He’s able to better capture the range of emotions Cole feels, but the script doesn’t give him enough. Mostly, Efron is left to look befuddled at the confusing world around him (and provide his own obvious visual reasons in the meaningless, exploitive scene of him in the shower).

Oregon Live
"Harmless" also describes Efron, the baby-faced, brilliant-eyed star who graduates from high school musicals to the more collegiate variety with this tale of a laptop mixmaster trying to break into the big-time world of electronic dance music. Efron, despite his blankness, has a screen presence you can't help but root for. In another 25 years, he'll probably have a great comeback role in a film by the Quentin Tarantino of that era.


Negative

Joblo
I have no problems with Zac Efron. Sure, he's pretty but to give this guy his due he seems exceedingly confident in front of the camera and has a kind of easy charisma that just screams movie-star. Given the right role, he could really amount to something. But, given something as thinly written as this he flounders, badly.

AV Club
We Are Your Friends is as blank and empty as Zac Efron’s stare… Still in his nascence as a semi-adult movie star, Zac Efron has displayed an affinity for thinly sketched male camaraderie—dim bros who allegedly love each other’s company, but have very little to say to each other or anyone else. Neighbors made that desire for unchallenging friendship sort of touching, but movies like That Awkward Moment and We Are Your Friends place him in a dead zone that is full of bro signifiers and empty of actual friendship, leaning on his tendency to stare blankly instead of emoting.

NPR
At the center of the story, and not for the first time, Efron is little more than a good-looking void. But that's largely the responsibility of the script, which gives Cole plenty to do but little to say or think.

ComingSoon
The biggest overall problem with We Are Your Friends is that Efron has good looks but isn’t a particularly charismatic actor as far as making Cole an interesting character.

International FilmJournal
Bentley’s confidently snide and amused delivery (“You’re not even a real person until you’re 27”) makes some of this material more palatable, but Efron’s reserved demeanor and Ratajkowski’s dreary flatness fail to pick up on the gauntlet he’s thrown.

Metro US
Aspiring DJ Cole Carter, played with blank-faced puppydog sincerity by Zac Efron, mans the controls of an L.A. rich person party and, to impress a girl, and maybe us, decides to offer up his secret recipe.

Screenjabber
Efron gives a somewhat colourless performance as Cole Carter.

Flickfilosopher
Efron’s usual appeal is lost among it.

Nationalpost
I mean that literally. Cole is compelled to turn and look at any girl he passes in the street or on the dance floor. His ability to swivel his noggin and scan the environment is admirable; unfortunately, it’s also what passes for acting range in this movie. (Also, is there a rule in Hollywood that says Efron has to be filmed showering in at least one scene?)

Awardscircuit
It’s not necessarily the fault of the actors, but every single character in this movie is a terrible and unlikeable person. It’s probably no surprise then that Wes Bentley and Zac Efron fare the best in the cast because they’re required to acknowledge this. Efron is a bland leading man, but he has sporadic charisma, so a better written part would have done wonders for him.

Baltimore Magazine
Efron is a natural and likeable presence on screen and has proven to be a pretty decent actor in films like Hairspray and The Paperboy. But the problem with “regularness” is that, in the wrong hands, it’s kind of dull. Which brings us to We Are Your Friends. The film, directed and co-written by Max Joseph, clearly sees itself as a kind of West Coast Saturday Night Fever, with disco replaced by EDM (Electronic Dance Music). But it’s so shallow, it actually feels more like EDM’s answer to Cocktail, that Tom Cruise vehicle about a brash young bartender learning the ropes from a wily mentor.

We Are Movie Geeks
It doesn’t help that Cole is essentially a cipher, and Effron lacks the chops to make him more than that. We’re watching a man devote himself to music and figure out what his life is going to be about, but Effron doesn’t act so much as he twinkles and wiggles and stares intently at his laptop. The star has turned in decent performances in other films but here he makes it hard to get too worked up about Cole’s dreams.

San Diego Reader
Nor even for pretty Zac Efron's doomed attempt to lend soul and fire to the sight of a Valley kid turning knobs in front of his laptop.

RogerEbert.com
Efron, however, often looks nearly at sea as Braff would have. Part of it has to do with his character being a bit of a cipher to begin with.

Detroit News
Efron hints at layers in Carter he isn’t able to explore, and his scenes with Ratajkowski — who has the screen presence of a piece of pita bread — are lifeless.

Screen It
Efron continues to fall into the trap that former kids' TV darlings Miley Cyrus and Selena Gomez set for him of appearing in hard R-rated films in which he and everyone around smoke pot, do drugs, pound back liquor, engage in promiscuous sex, and use way too many swear words. Cole and Mason and the rest can't just say things like "I'll do it later" or "Where are you going?" They have to puff up their chests and say "I'll f***ing do it later" and "Where are you f***ing going?" It gets so laughable that you almost believe these little boys are cursing for the first time ever and finding it just so cool.


My Thoughts

I am focusing mostly on the Zac parts in these reviews, obviously. As I expected, the story overall is weak and the subject, meh. I had hoped Working Title being involved would help it be better but alas. I am very glad that though that Zac is getting some credit from people who, before Neighbors, disliked him.

That said, I am also fearful the box office beating will hurt his reputation with the superficial people, especially cause I don't see Dirty Grandpa doing that well either (Mike and Dave is another story and fingers crossed for Neighbors 2).

While I never expected WAYF would make major money, it is surprising for how bad the box office is. I feel a bit like it is a perfect storm of catastrophe... tbh Zac's fanbase is not as hot as it was, it is also a bad time of year generally (first/second week of school for many high schoolers and college students), it has not-so-great reviews, and to follow on the heels of Straight Outta Compton would've been tough even for a praised film. And you could tell, for all their social media efforts, it wasn't catching interest. But WAYF's number almost comes off as if the box office is like a stock market, dramatically overcorrecting itself down after the massive, aberrant rally that was the record-shattering Compton.

Whatever the case, I hope Zac uses this as both a lesson and a test. The lesson being, briefly, don't pick scripts just because you identify with the role, pick them because they are A+. A good script can go bad in filming but very, very rarely does a bad script end up better. The test is, for someone intent on succeeding, intent on pleasing people and critically aware of his business responsibility and how the money side of Hollywood works, don't get bogged down in this failure or in the narrative others will paint of you, don't slide backwards. Keep working, value the good parts of the project, learn from the mistakes and move on. The only true thing about Hollywood is, you're only out of options once you are deceased. And if Matthew McConaughey can win an Oscar after coasting on his looks and generic dreck, so can Zac.
 
 
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lauren: pic#120706957lipkinlip on August 30th, 2015 12:45 am (UTC)
The movie was ok, but I'm generally curious as what happen? Is it max? The movie?
Beejeezbee on August 30th, 2015 12:48 am (UTC)
Did you even read what Cady wrote about it? Because she comments on it...
Bee: Zac - GQ - Lying on Car 1jeezbee on August 30th, 2015 12:49 am (UTC)
Sorry, I wrote another novel... part 1

The reviews have actually been a bit better than I've been expecting. I thought the movie would end up in the 10s or 20s on RT (and hoping it wouldn't be single digits). Zac's personal notices have been decent, so that's good and this is what I've been hoping for.

But the content of the reviews address exactly the issues I've been anticipating. Set aside the actual premise and backdrop of the movie (which isn't appealing in the first place if you ask me), the biggest issue always seemed to be the abundance of clichés, stereotypes and on the nose dialog.

I've read my share of screenplays but I'm not a professional reader or expert by any means and only had parts of the script but even I could see that it was basically riddled with it. I'm not talking about using some tropes here and there (many movies do) but if the entire script consists of them you're destined to get crap for it. It doesn't matter if those stereotypes are true, nowadays you can't make a simple coming-of-age story and use every archetype and cliché out there and be surprised that everyone calls it predictable or worse.

I'm not particularly surprised that a script of newbie writers would have those issues but I'm baffled that Working Title who really should know better didn't give notes on that. Movies are hard to predict and even with best intentions sometimes/often don't work out the way they've been envisioned but it's infuriating when it's (imo) so obvious from the start.

Clearly Zac had a really good experience making this movie, so I doubt he regrets it despite the outcome. Plus, he signed up for this not only after rehab but shortly after the 2 other incidents, so I suspect he didn't have many alternative offers at this point (no matter what Max says in interviews). And despite my comments, the movie doesn't appear to be a trainwreck anyway (although a C+ cinemascore says most people did not like it at all and that makes WAYF the least liked/lowest rated wide release of Zac's movies). I just wish it wouldn't have gotten a wide release because that is doing by far more damage than good. I mentioned a couple times that I was baffled by WB picking it up and this box office just confirms that this is not something which appeals to masses and the trailer made it even worse. When you read frequently from his casual fans that this movie looks like shit you know you're in trouble.

It turns out though, the real issue is the box office. It has been clear for quite a while that WAYF would not do particularly well but the extend is surprising to me. WAYF got completely rejected. With Zac's personal reviews being good this movie wouldn't have caused any harm if it had played at a festival to mixed reviews, gotten a small distributor and not made much money. But with these numbers I expect it will have a negative effect on his status/offers because that opening weekend box office is really terrible. It's one thing for a movie to bomb but a result this low is another. It’s not going to be the end but it'll put a question mark on his status as leading man. This happens when the "wrong" projects get wide distribution and WAYF clearly wasn't suited for that. More theaters is not always better. Thank god his next 3 movies are already set so he can hopefully redeem himself a bit. I do think he is a movie star and can open movies (he's done it several times) but he needs to make better and esp more appealing movies if he wants to stay one. People will not go to his movies if they think it looks like crap as many did with WAYF. Neighbors was great but nobody in mainstream cares about movies like TAM or WAYF if they are not genuinely great (and even then they might be better off to platform). They might resonate with Zac on a personal level but Zac is not representative of 99.99% of people. Outside of comedies (and even here are limitations) a bro protagonist surrounded by other douchebros is generally just not appealing to many when there is no plot outside of growing up or finding love.

Edited at 2015-08-30 01:03 am (UTC)
Beejeezbee on August 30th, 2015 12:50 am (UTC)
Part 2:

Which brings me to the other topic... Zac's movie and character choices which I wanted to comment on for a while but this is the "perfect" opportunity.

Obviously, Zac is not getting the top scripts and movies, so it's typically a compromise. I understand that particularly post-rehab he probably didn't have much leverage and the following isn't entirely about WAYF. It's more about the type of movies and characters he goes after in general lately.

I do think going forward he needs to adjust the scripts he's seeking out if he wants to stay relevant (as movie star or just doing character work).

Of course an actor needs to find a way to connect to the character to give a good performance but there is a difference between playing characters which have traits/motivations you can relate to and movies/characters which resemble your own life/interests in one way or another.

Not that my opinion matters but I wish Zac would more go after movies/characters which
  1. Are more plot-driven and about something else than hanging with his bros, family, love, growing up. Movies where something "happens," something interesting. It has become all too common that people don't get what Zac's movie is about based on the trailer or who it is for. Imo Zac needs to accept that things which are interesting to him personally, are often not interesting for other people and that's who the movies made for.

  2. Are more likeable and interesting characters. Recently his choices lean strongly on douchey/bro characters and while that can work well as antagonist (like in Neighbors) it just takes really lot to make people interested in some white bro and his friends' problems. I'm not saying the character needs to be perfect, on the contrary. Flaws make characters interesting. But his recent characters are all just simplistic bros enjoying life in one way or another. There is that quote from Zac that he's looking for characters that are about betterment of self and betterment of others – that's all fine and dandy but you need to do that in an interesting plot or environment. Vacant rich white dudebros getting rich or scoring the woman isn't really about that. Play a doctor, a pioneer or just a guy which accomplishes something of worth - there are many possibilities for that, it doesn't have to be a douche. Also, look for more relatable, complex characters.

  3. Have a better script. I mean specifically, don't pick a project because you like the concept, the backdrop or the idea of the character. Pick it because it's well written overall - the entire script. Many scripts have good ideas or even setups but they end up as bad movies because the execution of the script is not good. If you take this promo tour as example... Zac kept talking about how he liked the character, and living the valley and these friends is something which was reflective of his own life and it feels that's why he agreed to it but I never felt the actual execution of the script was something he took seriously into consideration. Zac always had the tendency to pick cheesy stuff but then he needs to get better people advising him. Yes, ultimately it's Zac's decision* but a good agent/manager/exec should be able to explain why certain scripts/premises are a bad idea..

  4. This is a bit vage but make a likeable movie once in a while. Of course this is easier said than done but Zac's recent batch (and several of his upcoming movies) are hard to love. Some of them like Neighbors are funny and successful but idk if I would call the movie loveable (although it certainly comes closer than most of his recent filmography). People LOOOOVEEE movies like HSM, Hairspray or 17 Again... there is something infectious about them to fall in love with. And Zac hasn't done anything tonally like that in a long while. He doesn't have to do them all the time (and they don't have to be musicals) but I guess there is a joy and energy to them which resonates with people. Partly that's connected to the douchey, unlikeable characters but also to the premises and tone.

Not saying all his movies should be plot-driven or all his characters likeably. But his choices seem to be too one-sided recently.

Edited at 2015-08-30 10:55 am (UTC)
Bee: Zac – 4th July - in front of roadjeezbee on August 30th, 2015 12:55 am (UTC)
Part 3:

What I don't get is when looking at his development projects (which I would assume indicate the types of movies he really wants to make if he could), those are more plot-driven and have more interesting premises so I don't understand why he's doing all those bro-y coming-of-age stories like TAM, WAYF and despite the character being different, I think Dirty Grandpa fall into that too.

Which brings me to his upcoming projects. I'm afraid Dirty Grandpa will be meh at best too. The premise lacks a real purpose and while he's not a douche in this (actually at some point he could turn into one... depends how it plays), he's again some passive, not particularly interestingly written dude who is "growing up." Add to that the tired roadtrip premise and De Niro's character not being particularly likeable... and Lionsgate is known for being cheap with their promo and the not so great release date, so idk how well that movie is going to do. However, it depends strongly on the trailer and how funny it looks.

I'm strangely optimistic about Mike & Dave despite the characters being a bit douchey but here it's played for laughs and they and has a clear concept. It has great casting and I have more confidence in the writers and even the director and producers. Of course I can be wrong but I think this one can do reasonably well. I have a similar feeling about this as I had about Neighbors back in the day (not saying it's going to open as big as Neighbors but I can see it doing well, hopefully). And I've talked about Baywatch extensively the other day... at least that is "about something" and I hope his character is at least written well and not just another archetype.

But I do hope the poker movie we had a rumor about recently, does not come to pass. I like him working with STX but this is another movie which has a backdrop and character which might appeal to him but they are just not likeable and usually don't make an interesting story for mainstream. Same goes for Cold Worriers which I didn’t bring up before. Idk the status of that and if he's actually interested or it's a one-sided thing from the producers but it seems a bad choice. The script has been around for years but didn’t set anything on fire, with Millennium as producer and I assume financier, that director and costar (don't get me wrong, I like Morgan Freeman but idt he has much starpower) this movie is destined to bad reviews and straight-to-vod. If you ask me (I know, nobody does), both of these movies seem like bad choices, especially now.

I'm really glad he is out of LA and on set already so he doesn't have much time to ponder about the box office. And I hope he can handle the fallout.

Now that I got it all out of the system, let's hope his upcoming movies are successful and we surely have a lot to look forward too. And I hope this won't bother him too much and he takes it as an opportunity to learn as Cady said.



* Side-note: I wish Zac would take a few screenwriting classes, read a few books and try writing some screenplays. I don't expect them to be good or get made but I would assume it helps him recognizing issues in scripts.


Edited at 2015-08-30 12:58 am (UTC)
hunny miss (aka lets fead him to the gators)ehs_wildcats on August 30th, 2015 06:33 am (UTC)
lol i knew it would be a novel but i didn't realize you'd go into three, lol.
(no subject) - jeezbee on August 30th, 2015 02:10 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - kleth on August 31st, 2015 04:40 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - jeezbee on September 2nd, 2015 12:15 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - vivi_li6 on September 3rd, 2015 08:12 am (UTC) (Expand)
The Writers Denmusewriter on August 30th, 2015 01:06 am (UTC)
Legitimate question: do you Jeezbee or Cady think that he could benefit from having a new team? I know Zac is the one who ultimately signs on the dotted line for these projects, but I've never been too impressed with his team. You would think that being with CAA his agents would go after more of the types of projects mentioned. Maybe they are and he's just not getting auditions/offers, but it seems like something is lacking. I've never been a fan of Jason either, but I just don't feel he's getting good guidance all around.

Sidenote: I just saw some of this was addressed above. Sorry for being redundant.

Edited at 2015-08-30 01:10 am (UTC)
Conner Kent: Womanizer Hair Flipsuperboy on August 30th, 2015 01:31 am (UTC)
He def could! I think letting him post more personal stuff was a good call. For even as much as he hates being so public it's nice to see him having fun and being silly. We hadn't seen that side of him in a while.

He needs to hire me tbh!!!
(no subject) - ehs_wildcats on August 30th, 2015 06:33 am (UTC) (Expand)
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Conner Kent: Womanizer Hair Flipsuperboy on August 30th, 2015 01:29 am (UTC)
Saw this for free last week! Thanks glamour_addict!! It wasn't too bad. I got into it. It was slow and over the top and even cheap looking at times but I followed along. And Zac looked great in some shots. In others you can clearly see how much his face has changed.

Idek what he could do anymore aside from these raunchy comedies. My poor bb. I just want him to be happy.

Edited at 2015-08-30 01:31 am (UTC)
The Writers Denmusewriter on August 30th, 2015 03:07 am (UTC)
I definitely don't think he'll get rid of Jason, especially since he seems very intertwined with Ninja's Runnin' Wild. I have my own opinions on that, but I won't bore you lol. Anyway, I totally agree about Mick and Joel. The problem is, since he's already at CAA I'm not sure where else he could go. You're definitely right, there aren't many alternatives. I really like Michael too. He's one of the few people Zac surrounds himself with professionally that I have no complaints about.
Beejeezbee on August 30th, 2015 03:19 am (UTC)
WME and UTA are basically the only viable alternatives but he could just change agents within CAA. I've seen that happen before. The problem is finding one which really believes in him and fights for him.

The thing is that Mick is actually the right level and "type" of agent for him. Idt it would help Zac getting managed from a partner bc he just doesn't make enough money for them to actually do the work themselves. And going by Mick's other clients, he's involved in the right type of projects, so idk where the issues are. Zac? Or him just not giving enough of a shit?
Bee: Zac – Details - plaid - profilejeezbee on August 30th, 2015 03:57 am (UTC)
It's almost funny that The Daily Beast JUST published an article which addresses some of the same issues we discuss here (and even funnier that they bring up Matthew McConaughey like Cady too).

They approach it from slightly different angle but you could basically assign every one of these quotes to one of the points I made in my novel:
Maybe it’s just his height, but there are times when watching Zac Efron is like watching a young Tom Cruise.

They’ve got a kinetic energy that suits them uniquely to the demands of American genre filmmaking; action films in Cruise’s case, musicals in Efron’s. [...] But where Cruise at his best is a force of infinitely expendable energy punching and staring and show-me-the-moneying out through the screen, somehow Efron seems stuck hesitating, waiting for that extra push.
He might be the biggest star of his age group in Hollywood, making movies all about boys and their big dreams and their swagger, but unlike other hot shot breakout actors, Zac Efron’s got the looks but not the attitude. When in doubt, he defers.
With the exception of the romance-novel-come-to-life movies that Efron has made, it’s interesting how often Efron has relegated himself to the role of a novice.
At a certain point as a fan, you’ve got to wonder when Efron will stop acting the part of the student and just start acting. With a lesser actor, this inaction would seem like just a lack of focus, but Efron is always present onscreen.
The High School Musical movies are for kids so they’re painted with broad strokes—not exactly what you want to be reminded of as you’re trying to maintain a career as a serious adult actor. But if you go back and watch those movies, there’s an reckless freedom to the way Efron moves in them that’s missing from his movies now.
But navigating the dark waters of Hollywood is a full-time job and it’s hard to be reckless onscreen when you know everyone’s watching. Efron practices self-control in a profession that thrives on self-expression.


I really hope he starts challenging himself more with his roles and picks more proactive, interesting characters and as the author of this piece says, starts punching.

Edited at 2015-08-30 03:58 am (UTC)
annabelle83 on August 30th, 2015 05:32 am (UTC)
I totally agree with the comparison to Tom Cruise with Zac. I thought WAYF would be marketed like Tom Cruise's Cocktail. They should have promoted it as a fun summer movie filled with cool music and puppy romance.(Even if it's a deceptive advertisement) But all the marketing material for this movie made it look like a boring drama about douchy bros. I think the marketing team is to blame for its box office result. Hope WAYF doesn't affect Zac's career at all. No one could've saved it after terrible marketing, not even a young Tom Cruise during Cocktail-era.
(no subject) - mirandagirll on August 30th, 2015 05:43 am (UTC) (Expand)
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Aliciapop86 on August 30th, 2015 11:02 am (UTC)
I was so angry yesterday because I don’t want Zac to be blame for the studio laziness. I wasn’t expecting WAYF to be #1 but it would had done better if the studio had it shit together. This was an epic fail because of WB. The studio knew WAYF was a niche movie that deserves a limited release in a few major cities. WB needed to make a strong marketing effort if they was going to have a wide release however they didn’t do that. They did not create any interest for WAYF before the promotional tour nor did they do anything to sustain interest after the tour. Since promotional tour, I have not seen any additional commercials or posters for WAYF. You need TV commercials that running during prime time hours to create awareness to general audiences. WB made a mistake relying on social media. Social media create buzz but that is not enough to reach general audiences and it certainly does not sell movie tickets.
Bee: Zac – CStC - ani - squeezing eyesjeezbee on August 30th, 2015 02:18 pm (UTC)
Sorry... my answer was actually for a different comment above.

But yeah, I never got why WB wanted to release this wide, and I can't even remember the last time when WB released a wide movie only into 2,333 theaters. They knew it was going to be an issue. But they probably just thought, the people showing up to see Zac shirtless no matter what was enough for their investment.

And it didn't help that they really shit the bed with that first trailer. Everyone EDM related was skeptical before the trailer but once that dropped, it was over. Not only was there no support but they actively worked against the movie imo. No tickets from them.

Edited at 2015-08-30 02:29 pm (UTC)
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WAYF2015IloveDjZac on August 30th, 2015 11:52 am (UTC)
That's exactly what i thought!!! I was suprised they buyed wayf and do nothing to help to get a wide audience!!! I'm confused about there reasons.
The Writers Denmusewriter on August 30th, 2015 03:51 pm (UTC)
I also place a large majority of the blame on WB...you can't start real promo 17 days before a movie opens and expect it to do well. Not for a niche movie like WAYF. Also, I remember thinking on the night of the L.A. premiere as I was looking at photos, that I recognized about 5 people who walked the carpet (3 of those being Zac, Emily, and Max). From a publicist perspective that's kind of a sign of a movie's success...if it looks like it's going to be good celebs will try to get invites to be seen at the premiere, if not people just won't go. I really wonder what WB was thinking releasing it wide, it could have been a legitimate indie hit. Combined with the promo issues, it was doomed from the start. And it's too bad that Zac is the one who has to suffer the consequences. Hopefully it will wake him up and get him looking at better projects, and wake his team up as well.

Edited at 2015-08-30 03:55 pm (UTC)
Beejeezbee on August 30th, 2015 04:23 pm (UTC)
This comment is for eggzactly because 140 characters are never enough for me...

I definitely have my doubts about Dirty Grandpa. Both, Cady and I were hoping for improvements on the script too and said similar things in the past. They did change it a bit esp in the second half from what I know but the overall plot still stands with all aforementioned issues.

I definitely agree with the comment Cady made in her post as well that you almost never get a good movie out of a bad script. So yeah... the script is definitely a concern. I'm also not sure about the director; I didn't find his previous movie particularly funny either.
kleth on September 1st, 2015 04:04 pm (UTC)
Let's look at the bright side. In Dirty Grandpa, Zac has a big-name co-star who may attract half (or more) of the blame if the movie is a flop. In WAYF, Zac is the only celebrity star and he'll get all the superficial blame, even if the script and the studio were the real problems.
Juliana Maiawastedocean on August 30th, 2015 11:52 pm (UTC)
I've read all the comments above and I agree. I've seen the movie today, I gotta say I enjoyed in general and I think Zac did a great job but like many of you mentioned he keeps going for the same type of roles and I really want him to do something different because we all know he has talent for that. Idk how well the movie will do in Portugal, TAM went pretty well and stayed in 1º place for a while so idk.
kleth on August 31st, 2015 05:09 pm (UTC)
"he keeps going for the same type of roles and I really want him to do something different"

If only we had a reliable source behind the scenes. I continue to suspect that he is making the movies he is offered. Just how many great movies has he turned down? Probably none. He just doesn't get offered great movies. Thank God he at least gets offered mediocre movies, so he can keep working, feed his hungry agents and managers, and gain valuable experience.

I am very encouraged by all the reviews above (good and bad) because almost all of them now accept Zac Efron as a fixture on the movie scene.
kleth on September 1st, 2015 04:14 pm (UTC)
Here's one to add to the negative column, from Box Office Mojo"

"We Are Your Friends struggled to make any with a below-expectations $1.8M, according to Warner Bros. Its $771 psa [per screen average] in 2,333 locations and its "C+" Cinemascore suggests that Zac Efron might have to start considering that "High School Musical: The 10 Year Reunion" script that's sitting in that stack somewhere."

This is a totally gratuitous stab of the ice pick because these people know about all his pending projects.
kleth on September 3rd, 2015 04:48 pm (UTC)
It's official, a new record
Zac makes movie history! According to Box Office Mojo or IMDb, I don't remember which:

"Grossed $1.8 million dollars during its opening weekend, the worst ever total for a major U.S. studio release that premiered on more than 2,000 screens."

This was the weakest box office weekend of the year, but still....

And I was a little surprised to also note that WAYF did more than $200k on Monday and Tuesday and has crept up to a gross of $2.2 million. Maybe over time (and overseas) it will climb out of the Deeply Ashamed category into the Rather Embarrassed class.

Added Note: Zac is on the Neighbors II set in Atlanta now. I wonder what kind of roasting he's getting from Seth Rogen and Dave Franco.

Edited at 2015-09-03 04:52 pm (UTC)