Cole (Zac Efron) keeps a poster of Al Pacino in Scarface on a wall in his San Fernando Valley bungalow, a pad he shares with his bros. Ever since Brian De Palma’s 1983 gangster flick emerged with renewed vigour in the early 21st century, as a figure of cultural inspiration, Tony Montana has become the patron saint of the American Dream. Only, Cole sees a flaw in the poster’s motto – “The World is Yours” – and it chides with his egalitarian bro-spirit. He crosses out the Y, so that it reads ‘The World is Ours.’
Zac Efron has put his trust in some ropey material but there is no denying his star quality. Playing a dude-bro dreaming of the big time, however, doesn’t suit him at all. He’s a likeable and charming screen presence but he’s just wrong for this particular role. John Travolta’s charisma and raw energy as Manero, as well as his slick dance moves, drew us in and kept us compelled even as he acts like a preening narcissistic gobshite and almost-rapist. There is no such complexity to Efron’s performance. Cole is blander than a cheaply made night-time infomercial. Set next to Mia Hansen-Løve’s vastly superior and authentic Eden, We Are Your Friends is The Birdie Song juxtaposed with Daft Punk’s One More Time.