Everybody Wants Some!! (2016)
Here for a Good Time Not a Long Time
Back in 1993 writer-director Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused charmed audiences with its rambling glance at the final days of high school in a 1976 Texan backwater, the living-in-the-moment entertainer eventually reaching cult status and kick starting Linklater’s prolific career — a CV that includes esteemed films such as Before Sunrise (1995) and the Oscar-winning Boyhood (2014). Dubbed as a ‘spiritual sequel’ to Dazed and Confused, Everybody Wants Some!! is set in the 1980s, Linklater now placing college life under the microscope, analyzing the decade of decadence through the eyes of Jake Bradford (Blake Jenner), a college greenhorn enrolled at Southeast Texas State University (STU).
Where Dazed and Confused focused on a mix of distinct individuals — guys, girls, weirdos, stoners, geeks, nerds and thugs (all in different age groups) — Everybody Wants Some!! basically follows Jake Bradford (the latest pitcher on the block) and his band of newfound friends (sophomores and freshmen all bunking in the same baseball team frat house) as he awkwardly take his first steps towards manhood, navigating the dense and murky waters of unsupervised adult life — and the freedoms and responsibilities that come with this — the flick trailing the shenanigans of these athlete ‘douchebags’ for one macho pepped wild weekend, the clock ticking down to the commencement of class.
A somewhat autobiographical piece for the Academy Award nominated director, Everybody Wants Some!! — which is supposedly brimming with anecdotes from Linklater’s own time as a baseball player in college — presents a snapshot of September of 1980, exploring the trends and fads of the era — think disco funk, honky-tonk and punk rock — whilst painting a vignette of American college life in the ’70s and ’80 — so there’s plenty of beer guzzling and tail chasing to be found. With this in mind, the film doesn’t try too hard force any deep-seated messages across, nor is it loaded with complicated plot points, but rather chooses to simply explore the characters — in this case, a slew of broad-shouldered, slightly misogynistic frat boys. And just like most other Linklater pics Everybody Wants Some!! is another hang-out romp, one that’s grounded in reality — peeps lounge about and engage in profound conversations for lengthy periods of time, though these are often bogged down by an over usage of derogatory terms and curse words. There’s also no concrete narrative to be found over and above the happenings on this one particular weekend as the film simply attempts to catch the essence of a time and place — a bunch of guys sharing a house together and their thoughts and concerns over this specific weekend.
It’s clear that Linklater has a fondness for these able-bodied, sex-obsessed beef heads — despite their stupidity and lack of respect towards women — and thus stages the guy’s thrill-seeking weekend in a real swanky manner; while this may be seen an ‘honest’ portrait of college-aged sportsmen, their blatant sexism, unpleasant behavior and bullying habits often make them difficult to rally behind. Nevertheless, despite the fact that there about twelve dudes vying for screen time, Linklater — who’s got a certain knack in bringing out the best from his performers — steers through proceedings adeptly, ensuring that audiences get to know and understand each and every one of these bickering bro-centric blokes.
The standout of the lot is certainly front man Blake Jenner who, despite being a relative newcomer, implants Jake with a sense of allure (a trait that many of the others do not poses) making him somewhat likeable in amongst the riff-raff whilst Glen Powell’s, The Expendables 3 (2014), fast-talking Finnegan is charismatic enough to charm. Wyatt Russell, son of Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn, also sticks out as the team stoner Willoughby, and then there’s the erratically tempered Jay, played by Juston Street, Courage (2015), who comes across more like an unhinged Weird Al Yankovic than a bona fide baseball jock and feels tonally jarring and completely out of place. Though the real scene-stealer here is the beautiful Zoey Deutch, Beautiful Creatures (2013), who plays the sweet theater major Beverly, this alluring thespian guiding the flick into a euphoric zone of budding maturity — and all in due time, too, as the excess sex talk, unintentional homoeroticism and gratuitous T&A does become tiresome.
Employing Linklater’s technical bravado, the entire production presents the pre-Reagan age in such an organic and nostalgic way: the tight jeans and polyester shirts highlighting the retro chic whereas the production design by Bruce Curtis, A Scanner Darkly (2006), is outstanding in keeping the sets and props era-appropriate — all the way down to minor details on the baseball helmets and gloves. Everybody Wants Some!! also boasts an addictive soundtrack (songs that makes you wanna get up and jive), the varied range of pop tunes deliriously guiding the laid-back account with legitimate oomph — from the boggie track ‘Take Your Time (Do It Right)’ performed by the S.O.S. Band to The Knack’s chart topping rock hit ‘My Sharona,’ which blares during the flick’s dynamic intro. Interestingly, Linklater uses the film’s setting to his favor with the 1980’s being a time of transition across the globe, this backdrop working nicely juxtaposed to the leading lads, who too find themselves in that delicate period of passage: boys on the verge of becoming young men.
Sadly, the lack of commentary or perspective on the lad’s ill-mannered antics slightly weighs the film down, even if the lively exchanges and zippy banter do hit all the right notes for the most part. While Everybody Wants Some!! may not be considered as one of Linklater’s ‘finest,’ being a tad rough around the edges, it surely compliments the 55-year-old writer/ director’s impressive filmography and is definitely worth a look. Finally, be sure to stick around through the credit sequence as the ‘wolf pack’ show off their jam, singing and rapping to their very own ‘tailored’ version of The Sugarhill Gang’s ‘Rapper’s Delight.’
3 / 5 – Good
Reviewed by S-Littner
Everybody Wants Some!! is released through Roadshow Entertainment Australia