There was a time when writing the Great American Novel represented the pinnacle of creative accomplishment. Nowadays, though, our best and brightest would rather drop the Great American Beat.
Case in point: Zac Efron's aspiring electronic-music star in the first trailer for Max Joseph's coming-of-age DJ drama "We Are Your Friends," opening Aug. 28 from Warner Bros.
"If you're a DJ, all you need is a laptop, some talent and one track," says twentysomething Cole Carter (Efron). "That track is your ticket to everything."
For Cole, a part-time party promoter who picks up the odd construction job to pay the bills, music stardom is his ticket out of the Valley. He also hopes to bring his buddies with him, "Entourage"-style.
Things pick up when Cole impresses an older, successful DJ (Wes Bentley), who soon takes the kid under his wing and helps him unlock his raw talent. But complications arise when Cole gets close to his new mentor's girlfriend (Emily Ratajkowski, of "Gone Girl" and the infamous "Blurred Lines" video) and begins to drift away from his loyal friends at the same time.
Set to a pulsing soundtrack — including the Justice hit from which the movie takes its name — the "WAYF" trailer seems to give a good sense of the tone and aesthetic Joseph (MTV's "Catfish") is going for in his feature-directing debut. It's bouncy, colorful and slickly edited, but with an undertone of millennial angst.
The film's success could ultimately hinge on how well it balances style and substance, and whether Efron can anchor the film's emotional arc. Either way, many fans of the former teen idol will be relieved to know that yes, he takes his shirt off in the movie.
"He's shirtless and you get a good dose of it," Joseph told E recently. "It's not a flash but it's not like he's playing water polo for like six minutes or anything like that."