Catholic Transcript Magazine of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hartford Connecticut

As we celebrate the 175th Anniversary of the Archdiocese, we look back… on July 23, 1976 when Archbishop Henry J. O'Brien passed away.
Catholic Transcript Reader Survey
Catholic Transcript Reader Survey

movie 20150827cnsto0010A scene from the romantic drama "We Are Your Friends." (CNS photo/Warner Brothers)

NEW YORK (CNS) – Several scenes in the tepid, noncommittal drama "We Are Your Friends" are set around a drained backyard swimming pool in which only a small puddle of polluted water remains. It's an appropriate image for the film's moral context.

Genuine values occasionally surface in director and co-writer Max Joseph's script, penned with Meaghan Gallagher. Yet for the most part, its characters move through their shallow lives in a party-craving stupor from which even the forceful intrusion of love and death barely awakens them.

The movie doesn't actively promote wrongdoing, nor do its inhabitants consciously embrace vice. Instead, both are adrift on a sea of ethical assumptions whose tide is driven by the longstanding Hollywood myth that the greatest of human aspirations is to have a good time.

Aiming to secure that state of bliss, both for himself and others, is the picture's youthful protagonist, aspiring disc jockey Cole (Zac Efron). Cole's idea of personal success involves producing electronic music so captivating that it will transfix the crowd at a rave.

For the information of those aging disco denizens for whom Donna Summer's "Last Dance" may have been just that, we pause to explain that a rave is a large-scale shindig featuring powerfully amplified music, visual effects of various kinds and, all too often, a range of easily available narcotics.

Cole's ambition to become a star at such gatherings gets a boost when he strikes up a friendship with established groove maker James (Wes Bentley). Though James is initially dismissive of Cole's work, the lad eventually wins him over.

But the rapidly flourishing relationship between mentor and protege is threatened when Cole falls for James' much-younger live-in girlfriend, Sophie (Emily Ratajkowski).

Along with the chronological imbalance between them, James' fondness for the bottle and his heedless womanizing open the way for a betrayal. Yet it's implied that, whatever she may or may not choose to do with her body, for the time being at least, Sophie's affections remain fixed on James.

The fact that Cole acknowledges as much is, in its own way, weirdly chivalrous. Yet it also demonstrates the degree to which the idea of sex entirely untethered from any form of commitment – much less marriage – is readily accepted by all concerned.

Alongside their love triangle, Joseph and Gallagher set up a hackneyed conflict between Cole's artistic aspirations and the pressure to settle for a more mundane – but practical – lifestyle.

For Cole and his trio of best friends since childhood – Mason (Jonny Weston), Ollie (Shiloh Fernandez) and Squirrel (Alex Shaffer) – Mammon comes calling in the person of shady real estate operator Paige (Jon Bernthal). Paige offers the naive pals lucrative jobs helping him rescue cash-strapped homeowners.

Though it takes Cole a while to join the audience in recognizing Paige as nothing more than a timely villain, his delayed insight leads on to one of the picture's more admirable moments. In fact, the wrap-up sees him moving not only in the direction of romantic stability but toward a heartfelt, self-sacrificing concern for others as well.

Party on, dude.

The film contains benignly viewed drug use, cohabitation and premarital relations, brief semi-graphic bedroom scenes, upper female nudity, a couple of profanities and pervasive rough and crude language. The Catholic News Service classification is L – limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R – restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.

Mr. Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.

alertAt the Spring Assembly of the U.S. bishops, Cardinal Joseph Tobin suggested that a delegation ofbishops go to the border to see for themselves what was happening to newly arrived immigrants, families and children. On July 1 and 2, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the U.S. bishops conference, and five other bishops conducted a pastoral visit to the diocese of Brownsville, Texas. Stops included Mass at the Shrine of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle with the community, a visit to anHHS/OBR Shelter and Mass for the families there, a visit to the Customs and Border Patrol processing center in McAllen, TX, and a press conference at the end of their visit. Catholic News Service accompanied the bishops on their border trip. 

  1. Backgrounder and analysis of the bishops’ trip to the border: Cardinal DiNardo told CNS, “You cannot look at immigration as an abstraction when you meet” the people behind the issue.
  2. At final press conference, Cardinal Daniel Dinardo said the church was willing to be part of any conversation to find humane solutions because even a policy of detaining families together in facilities caused “concern.”
  3. Bishops serve soup to immigrant families at a center run by Catholic Charities and listen to their stories. Scranton Bishop Joseph Bambera said he found hope in hearing the people in the room talk about what’s ahead. They didn’t speak of making money but of finding safety for their children, he said, driven by “the most basic instinct to protect your family.”
  4. At an opening Mass he Basilica of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle-National Shrine near McAllen, Texas, Bishop Daniel Flores of Brownsville told Massgoers, “The bishops are visiting here so they can stop and look and talk to people and understand, especially the suffering of many who are amongst us,”

A delegation of U.S. bishops goes on a fact-finding mission at the U.S.-Mexican border to learn more about Central American immigration detention.

Following their visit to an immigrant detention center, U.S. bishops said they are even more determined to call on Congress for comprehensive immigration reform.