Remake The Graduate today, and an adult might corner Benjamin Braddock and whisper, "Startups." Debut director Max Joseph gives that a good shot, though the result -- the EDM-fueled, drug-laced dream-crusher We Are Your Friends -- is so sweaty and silly people may not notice. Like Mike Nichols, Joseph wants to tell the story of a 23-year-old boy-man lost in the suburbs of Los Angeles. Cole (Zac Efron) and his fellow San Fernando Valley slackers Ollie (Shiloh Fernandez), Squirrel (Alex Shaffer), and Mason (Jonny Weston, fantastic) think college is for suckers. Why waste your youth when kids make millions inventing phone apps? And why invent a phone app when you can strike it rich doing something fun -- say, acting, party promoting, or superstar DJ'ing, i.e., the dream career for any dude with a laptop?
Cole is the DJ; Mason, his unofficial manager, is a fast-talking scavenger. Just when you might think you're watching Entourage for Infants, the movie zooms back one degree and we see the boys through a larger lens: These beta males aren't fooling anyone. Perhaps not even themselves.
Still, EDM, a symphony of samples, can be more intimate than rock. DJs literally distill their world into music. Here, Cole finds inspiration in the vvrrrrrip of his crush's (Emily Ratajkowski) zippered jacket. Can Cole turn the sounds of the Valley into art? Even if he can, will anyone twerk?
To answer these questions, We Are Your Friends indulges in hyperactive visual breakdowns of EDM structure. It's fun and raw and dumb -- perfect late-summer cinema. Yet Efron, one of our best young actors, gives the movie more than it needs: if not quite gravitas, an emotional tempo.