Music has been a central component of Zac Efron’s onscreen career. From his breakout turn in the Disney Channel original movie series High School Musical to his supporting performance as the heartthrob Link Larkin in the 2007 remake of Hairspray, some of Efron’s most prominent credits have been focused on his ability to sing and dance.
Efron’s career has taken a turn in recent years toward a broader spectrum of roles. He switched bodies with Matthew Perry in 17 Again, engaged in weird sexual activities with Nicole Kidman in The Paperboy, and moved in next door to Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne in Neighbors. Granted, not all of these roles have worked out (romantic comedy That Awkward Moment didn't do so well), but that hasn't slowed Efron down.
Efron's next starring role in We Are Your Friends marks a return to music-centric films. As the latest trailer details (see above), the movie follows Cole (Efron), an aspiring DJ who teams up with a famous producer (Wes Bentley), only to strike up a relationship with the producer’s girlfriend (Emily Ratajkowski) and threaten his professional progress. The film seeks to dramatize the electronic dance music (EDM) scene, a prominent feature of late-2000s pop, through the lens of California’s San Fernando Valley.
For a while, it looked like Zac Efron was a pretty face with no substance beneath the handsome exterior. But the 28 year-old actor is starting to justify his stardom and expand upon it. His performance in Neighbors isn’t revolutionary, but director Nicholas Stoller mines comedy from the actor’s blankness, and turns his character into a surprisingly complex mixture of bravado and loneliness. Efron seems to be an actor who needs a director who understands his particular set of skills, and a character who plays to the emotions that Efron is capable of portraying.
We Are Your Friends looks like an attempt at a more earnest, serious showcase, but the trailer suggests that it might largely adhere to cliches of the genre, and that the movie might not be aware that Efron’s affect is more vapid than multifaceted. Still, director Max Joseph deserves the benefit of the doubt, and it’s not impossible to imagine this movie turning out to be surprisingly insightful about EDM culture or millennial ambition.
It not, then no worries, Efron's already lined up to reprise one of his better roles to date, with the comedy sequel Neighbors 2 in 2016.
We Are Your Friends arrives in U.S. theaters on August 28, 2015.
Source: Warner Bros. Pictures