Monday, April 18, 2016

"Everybody Wants Some!!"

 4 / 5 

Writer-directly Richard Linklater calls Everybody Wants Some!! a "spiritual sequel" to his 1993 hit Dazed and Confused, but both movies owe an enormous amount to George Lucas's groundbreaking American Graffiti, building on and perfecting the marriage of casual, non-linear structure to nostalgia-tinged happiness.

Everybody Wants Some!! is deeply unconcerned about following a plot of holding to the traditional conventions of Hollywood narrative as it tells the loosely structured story of a group of college baseball players during the weekend before school starts at their unnamed Texas university.

The joys of Everybody Wants Some!! -- and there are a lot of joys in the movie -- are offset by something deeper and richer, an unexpected sense of self-awareness that recalls Linklater's Before trilogy.  What everybody wants, it turns out, isn't purely sex and pot, it's also a sense of connection and purpose.

Dazed and Confused ended with its characters every bit as dazed and confused when they finished as when they started, but Everybody Wants Some!! ends on a sweet note of self-discovery, a sense that what looks like hard partying and unrelieved macho-man posturing actually leads to small but significant insight into life.

Though played by a large ensemble, the nominal central character is Jake (Blake Jenner), an incoming freshman assigned to live in a rambling old house with other members of the university's baseball team.  Jake finds it easy to fit in with his odd assortment of teammates, who include a California stoner (Wyatt Russell), a hell-bent-on-winning team captain (Tyler Hoechlin), a couple of other freshmen (Temple Baker, Tanner Kalina), a country bumpkin (Will Brittain) -- and that's just the start.  Some of Jake's housemates, like J. Quinton Johnson's Dale, are more clearly defined than others, and if Everybody Wants Some!! has a major fault it's that it's hard to keep all of the characters straight.

The film follows them from day to day, party to party, over the long weekend, observing how they posture and preen, build themselves up and tear each other down, and compete to see who can get the women they most desire.

Jake has his eye set on one girl in particular, a theater major named Beverly (Zoey Deutch), who has quickly learned that in the feminist-infused summer of 1980, when the film takes place, she can be just as assertive and just as forward as the boys.

In the movie's best scene, she invites Jake to a party given by the "theater kids."  Jake's just gone through a frat-party-style blowout at his house, filled with kegs and sex and mattresses sliding down the staircase, so when he (and the baseball team members he's invited) show up to the highly stylized, highly stylish theater party, they become different people.  They've never experienced this level of wit and humor, and they're impressed.

Everybody Wants Some!! takes pleasure in watching the minds of these baseball-obsessed late-teens suddenly expand -- and even before they set foot in the classroom, the minds of these kids grow in expend in just these three days.  In that sense, Everybody Wants Some!! isn't just nostalgic -- with a perfect soundtrack to boot -- but hopeful: Jake and his teammates (with the exception of one particularly deluded pitcher, perhaps) might do more in college than play sports, and they might come out of the experience as better people.

You can spend two hours watching Everybody Wants Some!! purely for the nostalgia-drenched atmosphere: The movie doesn't simply feel like it's set in 1980, it feels like it was made in 1980, and on that level alone, it's a kick to watch.

But you may come away with an unexpected sense of surprise that the giddy smile that crosses your face when the movie ends is also a knowing one, because you realize that these kids may, to paraphrase a key sentence toward the end of the film, be finding their own frontiers -- which is, when you think about it, what everybody wants.

Viewed April 17, 2016 -- ArcLight Sherman Oaks


1 comment:

  1. "The movie doesn't simply feel like it's set in 1980, it feels like it was made in 1980"

    YES ^