xXx: Return of Xander Cage
The last forty minutes of the movie do come together in a pretty diverting way.
Electronic Dance Music, or EDM as Those Damn Kids call it, is quite the thing with the aforementioned Damn Kids these days, with their rave and their Molly and whatever the hell else they’re up to. Its synthetic trappings notwithstanding—the “Electronic” part—EDM is dance music, just like Big Band Swing was, just like early rock and roll was, just like disco was. All musics that were initially reviled, and to some extent (with the arguable exception of Big Band Swing) initially misunderstood by Hollywood.
“We Are Your Friends,” directed by Max Joseph, from a script by Joseph and Meaghan Oppenheimer (based on a story by producer Richard Silverman), makes a big deal out of “getting” EDM. There’s the sleek, visual-format flexible manner of the filmmaking, which mixes graphic design tropes with animation and such for some of the movie’s most engaging sequences. There’s a scene in which the protagonist, a fledgling EDM DJ named Cole Carter, explains the science of EDM as he rocks a dance floor, elaborating on getting the magic BPM (Beats Per Minute) count that makes the music control the dance floor subjects, almost zombie-like in the grip of the pulsating bass. There’s a little music-wonk name dropping, with a mentor DJ showing off a rare Buchla synthesizer and comparing his possible protégé, unfavorably, to one Juan Atkins.
Joseph recently made a documentary about the EDM production team/record label DFA, so he’s got some genuine knowledge under his belt. And while EDM is an area of music in which my expertise doesn’t extend far past that of an interested dabbler/dilettante, the EDM soundtrack of this movie sounded pretty credible/hot to me. Too bad that the movie’s character dynamics and plot are as cheesy as that of, oh, I dunno, “Don’t Knock The Rock.” How’s this for cliché: talented, eager, but unseasoned DJ gets taken under the wing of older, popular, but jaded and close-to-washed-up genre star, who shows him the ropes, opens his ears, and who also happens to…wait for it…have a gorgeous girlfriend with whom Mr. Talented And Eager gets entangled in a bad way. Yeah, that kind of plot.
What’s worse is that said DJ, Cole Carter, comes complete with a contingent of San Fernando Valley tatted BroDouche pals, kind of out of the “Diner” handbook but even more belligerent, clueless, and sexist. And minus any charm. There’s super-brash Mason (Jonny Weston), self-proclaimed “movie star” Ollie (Shiloh Fernandez), and Squirrel (Alex Shaffer). In the event you haven’t guessed, Squirrel is the shy, sensitive one.