This is a terrible title for the thinnest of stories set to music at 128 beats per minute. And that, according to DJ Cole (Zac Efron), is the optimum rate to get an audience fully energized. But maybe not for this movie. Think of this as “remix to the rescue.” Every time the story threatens to bog down into trite dialog delivered by one-dimensional characters in clichéd situations, the beat starts thumping and we reengage to give it one more chance. The music keeps it moving, but the plot is predictable on so many levels. We know where every storyline, every character, every aspect of this movie is going – and it goes there, often directly, down to the last detail. You’ve seen it all before, but maybe not with this beat.
Director Max Joseph wanders all over the place trying to be artistic, hip and helpful. Colors run on screen, people morph into psychedelic outlines; there’s lots of four-letter words and use of the word “bro;” Efron talks directly to the audience, explaining the fundamentals of being a DJ. Put two scoops of movie clichés in a blender, hit “mix,” and give it a terrible title; you may well end up with this movie. With her puffed-up lips, made-up eyes, and raspy voice, Ratajkowski oozes sultry innocence and perky sexual tension. She’s beautiful; maybe she doesn’t also need to be talented. We sense that her interest in Efron may lie in the fact that she welcomes the chance to have sex with someone closer to her age. She was Ben Affleck’s fling in “Gone Girl.” Efron spends much of the movie smoking PCP, downing drinks and looking thoughtful, pensive, and engaged. He tries to show depth, but he never inspires our empathy. This is the story of a young man facing a choice between a risky dream and the security of a dead-end job – and we’ve been there, done that. In these waning days of summer, there are better movies available.