From the Archives: Everybody Wants Some review

From the Archives: Everybody Wants Some review

In the interest of getting “hard” copies of my work under one roof, I plan to spend the next few weeks posting the entire archive of my film journalism here on ScullyVision. With due respect to the many publications I’ve written for, the internet remains quite temporary, and I’d hate to see any of my work disappear for digital reasons. As such, this gargantuan project must begin! I don’t want to do it. I hate doing it. But it needs to be done. Please note that my opinions, like everyone’s, have changed a LOT since I started, so many of these reviews will only represent a snapshot in time. Objectivity has absolutely no place in film criticism, at least not how I do it. 

Without further ado, I present to you: FROM THE ARCHIVES.
Originally posted on Cinema76.

Billed as a spiritual sequel to Dazed and Confused, and advertised as a frat boy comedy, Richard Linklater’s latest, Everybody Wants Some!!, manages to be both and then some. It’s a coming of age story, a love letter to a bygone era, and a reclamation of adolescent masculinity from a cruel grasp of “bro” culture. It’s also a damn fine comedy. The reason that Everybody Wants Some!! succeeds so strongly in being such a chameleon comes from Richard Linklater’s almost clinical aversion to plot. Be it his Before trilogy, Boyhood, or even the underrated Bernie, Linklater’s filmography has almost universally abandoned traditional structure in favor of good stories and strong characters. There’s no reason why watching two people have a ponderous, meandering conversation should be so engaging, yet Linklater gets away with it again and again by showing an affection for his characters that is purely without judgment, and imbued with curiosity. You get the sense that even though he is telling the tale, Linklater is learning from it as well. His cinema is alive. How could Waking Life, a film completely devoid of plot, be so watchable (and rewatchable!) without a single accusation of pretentiousness lobbed it’s way? Honest, lovable (even if not likable) characters.

But enough about Linklater’s previous work. Let’s talk about Everybody Wants Some!!, which at the time of this writing, is my film to beat for 2016. EWS!! takes place in the fall of 1980, specifically the two days leading up to the start of classes. Jake is about to begin his freshman year, as well as his first year playing collegiate baseball. The thing is, while he may have been the best player in high school, he’s now just another face in a crowd of talented athletes. And he’s surrounded by them. Literally. The entire baseball team lives together in two adjacent houses, which results in a constant competition of ego – an almost literal genital-waving contest between a full roster of alpha males, and it is absolutely hilarious. That’s about as heavy as the film gets plot-wise. We follow along as the boys drink, go to the club, play bloody knuckles, and prank each other, but as previously stated, plot is not Linklater’s MO, and EWS!! is richer for it.

One would think that a hang-out flick about a bunch of athletes trying to get laid would be crass at best and at worst, misogynistic, but EWS!! never crosses the bounds of taste. Once again, this comes down to the palpable love that Linklater has for his characters. Sure, a few of these bozos could classically be considered “jerks” but their attitudes don’t come from a place of dominance or superiority, but from a place of immaturity – an immaturity that is undoubtedly relatable to anyone who’s been of that wonderful age where drinking, dancing, and fooling around all night didn’t lead to a nightmare in the morning. This isn’t the caricature-ish world of American Pie or Van Wilder. This is all real world stuff, which is why when the story leads down more typical paths (there’s an oh-so-adorable romance), it doesn’t feel like a function of plot, but rather a development of story; a growth of character.

It’s this emotional purity that connects Everybody Wants Some!! to Dazed and Confused, or really to just about any of Linklater’s work. Much in the same way that 10 Cloverfield Lane exists in the same world as its precursor, so does the bulk of Richard Linklater’s filmography. But where the former exists in a heightened world of monsters and madness, the latter exists in a more relatable world: our own.

I love Everybody Wants Some!! It’s been a long time since I’ve laughed this hard (and this consistently) in a movie theater, and an even longer time since a movie as funny as this one evoked such a strong response without using an ounce of cynicism. The soundtrack rocks, the cast is flawless, and the movie never stops being fun for a second, even when it gets deep (and it totally gets deep!). It takes place in an era that so rarely exists in film – the very beginning of the 80s – and it captures the nervous magic of those few post-high school years when we were too old to be kids but too young to be adults. Back when we were hungry for life, for stimulation, for as much happiness as we could possibly squeeze out of the moment. Everybody Wants Some!! reminded me of the joy of living – the joy of wanting some and getting some, whatever that “some” may be.

Who says a feel-good movie has to be empty? Now go out there and get some. Everybody’s doing it!

Everybody Wants Some opens in Philly theaters today.

Official site.

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