A Second Look at Everybody Wants Some!!

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Cormac O’Meara takes another look at Richard Linklater’s Everybody Wants Some!! 

 

Richard Linklater received more universal claim for Boyhood than any other film of his career. A heartwarming tale of motherhood, family dysfunction and the evolution of popular culture in the noughties. And how does Linklater respond to all the accolades and critical acclaim? By stepping back into the ’80s, throwing a bunch of horny college baseball players into a house together, supply them with alcohol, drugs, testosterone, misogynistic lingo and disco. This isn’t a filmmaker who panders for universal admiration. A true indie maverick at heart, who has always stayed true to his laissez-faire style of filmmaking.

The trailer for Everybody Wants Some!! pulls no punches in terms of its raunchiness, and neither does the film. No foreplay, straight into it. Jake (Blake Jenner) arrives at Southeast Texas State college three days and fifteen hours before class commences. He’s a baseball player, riding into college on a scholarship, along with his new college teammates. He’s not there ten minutes before they’re cruising around campus picking up chicks and knocking back beers. Linklater introduces us to a dirty dozen of new talent. An eclectic clique of newcomer actors, who all carry their own in diverse and magnetic performances.

Once again, Linklater, with his lackadaisical flair, scraps any form of plot and allows us to simply hang out with his characters on their hazy weekend before college begins. His films always convey a specific time and place. The “spiritual prequel”, Dazed and Confused depicted the last day of an Austin high school in 1976, Boyhood portrayed a boy growing up around Texas during the 2000s, and Everybody Wants Some!! examines the coming-of-age of a group of guys before college in 1980. Linklater shows great affection for the early ’80s  era here, down to every little detail, but never comes across as forced. Linklater doesn’t reach, he’s not desperate. He lays back and allows his characters do the work. Similar to Boyhood, when it comes to selecting the soundtrack, Linklater doesn’t choose the obscure or “cool” tracks that filmmakers such as Tarantino or Scorsese do. He uses the songs that were actually popular back in a certain period. Boyhood had Coldplay and Soulja Boy while his latest film blasts Van Halen and disco.

The Place: A Texan native, Linklater has always made his region a character in his films. His love of the red state is evident throughout his career (founder of the Austin Film Society) and you can tell he has a fondness for the great outdoors – cruising around in cars (Dazed and Confused), father-son camping (Boyhood), swimming in rivers (Everybody Wants Some!!).

The Time: Billed as a “spiritual sequel” to Dazed and Confused, Linklater pushed on from the last day of high school in 1976 to the first day of college 1980. The music, clothes, hair and wonderful moustaches are all pedantically portrayed, but another aspect of that time that’s utilised in Everybody Wants Some!! is the technology. You can constantly see analog paraphernalia within various scenes around the interior of the Alpha House. All this mise-en-scene conveys a substantial dose of nostalgia.

Linklater also stays true to his characters. He doesn’t make excuses for them or try to overstretch them. They’re not funny like comic actors. Similar to real life, their humour can be hit or miss and sometimes just downright cringeworthy. But they’re honest and naturalistic in their roles. The camera glides along smoothly for the ride, following the boys-to-men on their pre-season odyssey. Their coach implements two rules for their Alpha House (no booze & no broads) that are quickly abandoned due to the player’s alpha-maleness. And this theme of alpha and competition plays throughout the movie, which would have worked even better if Linklater didn’t have the character of Jake actually say it – “you notice that everything around here is a competition”. This line undermines the audience. We can clearly see the competitiveness, we don’t need to be told. It’s like watching Jock National Geographic for Christ’s sake. The fact that they are aware of their competitive nature makes it a lot less interesting for the viewer.

Besides the cut-throat mentality and boisterous aura on the surface, what lies beneath is a bunch of boys on the cusp of adulthood. It’s a coming-of-age camaraderie, where the characters are having too much fun to realise they’re going through this rite of passage. They all must work as a team, but their first weekend together allows a glimpse at their search for individuality and identity. Although, the film’s sentimentality doesn’t hit as high as the raunchy and witty comedy, at least when it comes to the female characters anyway. The last few scenes between Jake and Beverly (Zoey Deutch), a performing arts major he takes a liking to, go just a little too smoothly and lack any notion of unpredictability. Maybe it would have been more compelling if Linklater stuck around with the lads, because the route he took we’ve all seen a thousand times.

The two little discrepancies that I found in the film still can’t stop Everybody Wants Some!! from completely knocking it out the park. Linklater has given us another effortless comedy with crisp and dynamic dialogue, spontaneous and natural performances, and variety of diverse and loveable characters. Similar to the stage of life Linklater illustrates, you don’t want the film to end. You want to keep hanging out with these guys after the last reel wraps up. The two hours go by like a breeze, blowing a smile onto your face that’s hard to wipe off.

A perfect film to get the summer started. Swig some cold ones and watch the good times roll. It’s a dinger.

 

Everybody Wants Some!! is in cinemas from 13th May 2016

 

 

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Review: Everybody Wants Some!!

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DIR/WRI: Richard Linklater • PRO: Megan Ellison, Richard Linklater, Ginger Sledge • DOP: Shane F. Kelly • ED: Sandra Adair • DES: Bruce Curtis  • CAST: Tyler Hoechlin, Zoey Deutch, Ryan Guzman

You’re tall, dark and handsome, driving your car in the wide open space of North American highways, blasting The Knack’s ‘My Sharona’ on the stereo. You’re on your way to begin university in Texas, set to play pitcher for the college’s baseball team, and about to have the time of your life. So opens Richard Linklater’s latest, Everybody Wants Some!!, a compelling, feel-good evocation of the student experience.

Our lead, Jake (Blake Jenner), is initially a little taken aback as he enters the dorm that will constitute his home for the duration of his studies. As a member of the university’s baseball team, he is to bunk with his fellow team mates, with the somewhat naïve freshmen mixed in with the not significantly wiser sophomores. Don’t let their similar attire – denim jeans (the film is set in 1980) combined with tight t-shirts to show off their bulging muscles – fool you. These boys are bounding with individual personalities, although when they hang out together, they demonstrate a similarly jock-like pride and competitiveness that is verging on narcissism. Still, there is a child-like playfulness to them as well which is hopelessly endearing. Their sense of fun and love of humour is wildly infectious.

There isn’t a whole lot of story to describe here. The entire film takes places over the weekend before semester starts, and so most of it consists of basically following the boys around as they get to know each other and have some banter while they don’t have to attend class. Their ‘manly ritual’ activities include singing ‘Rapper’s Delight’ in the car while driving around, trying to score with the ladies, playing sports, getting drunk, and getting high. They experiment with a variety of scenes in their leisure activities, alternatively visiting the local disco, a rodeo bar, and a punk rock concert. One particularly hilarious scene sees a group of the boys attempt to have a DMC while smoking pot in one of the lad’s bedrooms. On other occasions, we see the ridiculousness of the extent of the boys’ competitiveness with one another, for example, one game they play involves flicking each other’s knuckles until someone gets injured and gives up. The young men constantly prank and taunt one another but they also show a welcoming camaraderie that manages to be both timeless and nostalgic.

Linklater can thus add Everybody Wants Some!! to his already impressive filmography with pride. His previous works include Before Sunrise and its sequels, School of Rock, Bernie and the phenomenal Boyhood. Everybody Wants Some!! acts as a spiritual sequel to his coming-of-age classic Dazed and Confused, which followed a bunch of high school students in the 1970s and starred the likes of Matthew McConaughey, Ben Affleck and Milla Jovovich. Everybody Wants Some!! similarly stars an ensemble cast who will have varying degree of familiarity to the audience, for example, Blake Jenner should be recognisable for fans of Glee, Ryan Guzman starred in the latest Step Up instalments, and Wyatt Russell (son of Kurt Russell) previously showed his comedic chops in 22 Jump Street. The acting is all on point and it’s impossible to pick a stand-out performance out of the bunch. It’s likely that viewers will recognise their own friends or classmates in various characters, which is another enjoyable aspect of the film.

Feminists, be warned, there is a distinctly macho persona adapted by the male characters of the film, but at the same time, one can appreciate the fact that Linklater is also poking fun at it. There is a lot of fun and laughter to be had here, and I guarantee you’ll come out of the theatre smiling.

Deidre Molumby

116 minutes
15A (See IFCO for details)

Everybody Wants Some!! is released 13th May 2016

Everybody Wants Some!! – Official Website

 

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