EVERYBODY WANTS SOME!! C+
USA (116 mi) 2016 d: Richard Linklater Official site
One of the reasons we need more women filmmakers is that there are so few stories like this about women, while there are a gazillion male-centric, coming-of-age movies, all targeting a certain period of adolescent indulgence. Few will be as relaxed and laid-back as this one, feeling like a comfortable pair of old worn out jeans that haven’t been pulled out of the drawer or closet for a while, yet somehow still manages to fit. For those looking for a nostalgia trip, this one hits the nail on the head, doing an excellent job of recreating a rather innocent look of the 80’s. Unfortunately for those who actually lived through that era, this may remind you of many of the things you didn’t like about it, as it was the decade of Ronald Reagan as President, yet you’ll find no mention of that in this film. It’s like leaving Vietnam or Civil Rights out of the 60’s — hard to do. It was the era when homelessness became prevalent in all major urban centers across America, yet little was done about it, as instead there was a movement afoot to cut taxes and government spending, where the idea of providing services for the poor was starting to become a thing of the past, even ignoring the suicide of the leading advocate for the homeless, Mitch Snyder, who became completely disillusioned after his pleas were ignored by a government that preferred turning a blind eye, using a similar response to the AIDS crisis in New York until after it reached epidemic proportions. That’s also not mentioned in this film. To be fair, the specific time period of the film is set in the fall of 1980, the last days of the Carter presidency, occuring during the middle of the Iranian hostage crisis, when Reagan was about to be elected. It’s funny though how people living their lives during similar time periods have completely different recollections, where it’s almost as if these things never happened—out of sight, out of mind. Yet here we are some thirty to forty years later and the homeless epidemic continues unabated, where there are even frequent faces of the homeless seen mulling about just outside the theater where this film was seen. This decade was the turning point in American history when poverty became expendable, no longer a condition to be eradicated, but accepted as collateral damage. Too bad for them, so to speak, became the mantra of societal indifference. That’s one of the reasons nostalgia pieces aren’t always successful, as they’re likely to be amusing to some, but offensive to others.
This film plays out like a college fantasia, where the density of the writing suggests this could easily be produced onstage as a theatrical piece (a subversive gay musical comes to mind with an all male review, in the manner of the ANCHOR’S AWAY segment in the Coen’s recent Hail, Caesar!, hopefully directed by Tarnation’s Jonathan Caouette), where there aren’t any real cinematic cornerstones to the film, as it’s more a character sketch of rather doofus college athletes on the baseball team in search of drugs, alcohol, and getting into the pants of members of the opposite sex at the University of Texas in Austin, showing a raucous side of party life that existed “before” the AIDS crisis, though it feels greatly exaggerated here, feeling more like a euphoric romp through Spring Break, satirically viewed as if being a horndog was a permanent affliction. While some of this is mildly amusing, what stands out is the lack of any real character development, as none of the many featured athletes are really that interesting (with the exception of one guy that pulls an Ally Sheedy from THE BREAKFAST CLUB), so by the end of the picture nothing feels all that memorable. Less ambitious and entirely calculated, it’s a lighthearted, comedic shift from the more dramatically compelling works of 2014 Top Ten List #1 Boyhood and his Before Trilogy, Before Sunrise (1995), Before Sunset (2004), and Before Midnight (2013), all of which get more intensely involved in the character’s lives. Not so here, as this feels much more generic and homogenized, even a bit homophobic, never really digging under the surface, like it’s trying too hard to be likeable and pleasing, to Dazed and Confused (1993), one might also find traces in the John Hughes teen flick FERRIS BUELLER’S DAY OFF (1986) to find a similar feeling of smug male arrogance, where much of this similarly plays out like a wish fulfillment fantasy sequence. While it certainly falls in line with a “boys will be boys” scenario, delving into the testosterone-driven subtext of male masculinity, driven by out-of-control hormones and a Southern, sexual swagger, where it seems all guys are competitively vying for the Alpha male top dog title, it conveniently settles into a rhythm of easy laughs and boorish juvenile pranks. Never really concerning himself with plot in his movies, preferring shared experiences from a specific time and space, the lowbrow tone is established right from the opening shot, with Blake Jenner as incoming freshman pitcher Jake Bradford driving his muscle car through the heart of the college campus to the sounds of The Knack’s “My Sharona” The Knack - My Sharona live (HQ) - YouTube (4:54) while scoping the streets for female ass, finding plenty in every direction, like he’s arrived in pussy Nirvana.
As we are introduced to the rest of the jocks living in the two baseball houses, it’s an eclectic mix of older and younger teammates, each a bit offbeat and strange, showing an acute disdain for the new guy, where there’s a mystifying amount of peacock strut in every off-putting remark designed to knock someone else off the perch, giving them the green light to take center stage and shine solo. It’s a weird system of endless competition for top cock on the block, where they all just naturally play this silly game of one-upmanship. While Finnegan (Glen Powell) is seen reading Jack Kerouac and smoking a pipe, he never stops talking shit shrouded in the verbose language of literacy and philosophy, a kind of smartass know-it-all that loves to ridicule the inferiority and inadequacy of others, while Tyler Hoechlin is McReynolds, the heavily moustached Tom Selleck of the group, a guy that can never get enough of himself in the mirror, thinking he’s God’s gift to women, yet he’s the senior and unspoken leader of the group. Wyatt Russell is a perpetually zonked California surfer dude turned pitcher named Willoughby, who turns out to be a stoner guru (“You gotta tune in, man”) with an extensive Twilight Zone collection of VHS tapes and a VW van parked outside, while Niles (Juston Street) is the 95 mph fastball throwing pitcher from Detroit that supposedly already has scouts following him, yet he’s so buffed up and full of himself with fake stories and myth that he’s really just a nerdy geek in disguise. Jake’s own roommate is Billy Autrey (Will Brittain), which might come as some surprise, as all we ever hear him called is Beuter, as his country bumpkin accent is so thick it’s like he was raised in a backwoods swamp, a guy that doesn’t take to jokes or socializing very well, spending all of his time on the phone talking to his girlfriend, while Roper (Ryan Guzman) thinks he’s the epitome of the male species, believing he has the finest ass on the entire campus, accordingly wearing the tightest fitting pants. Dale (J. Quinton Johnson) is the token black player, yet he’s smooth enough to pass as just one of the guys, usually taking a more relaxed approach, but he’s a sleazeball like all the rest and is in on all the pranks as well. While there are many more to this motley crew, the group is all bluster, yet they’re feeling no pressure and no pain, as the baseball season doesn’t even begin until the following spring, so the film, oddly enough, counts off the minutes and hours before the fall classes begin, where the entire film is a 72-hour prelude to reality. Taking a cue from the ultra-conventional style of filmmaking from Clint Eastwood in Jersey Boys (2014), where a succession of stage performances were shown through a series of revolving set pieces, Linklater uses a similar device as the boys head out to the bars and dance clubs to chase after girls, going through a similar change of venue from the Day-Glo disco of the Sound Machine, EVERYBODY WANTS SOME!!! Sound Machine Clip (57 seconds), where they immediately get kicked out, to the URBAN COWBOY look of a country bar, offering a bull-riding machine, cowboy hats, and the obligatory line dancing, to the frantically berserk mosh pits of a punk club, where a group hilariously does a punk version of the Gilligan’s Island theme song, Gilligan's Island Theme Song - YouTube (1:31).
But no college experience would be compete without finding a girl, where an anonymous come-on to a couple of attractive girls from a car stuffed with guys is skillfully rebuffed, but brings success to the guy in the back of the car that keeps quiet, none other than Jake, the driving force of the film, as the slim storyline is built around his initial impressions, which includes a first look at Beverly (Zoey Deutch), who looks strangely familiar, as she turns out to be the daughter of Leah Thompson from BACK TO THE FUTURE (1985), the highest grossing film of the year, also starring in both sequels. While the baseball boys dominate the film, a tribute to their obnoxious attempts to hit on every attractive girl they see, where they literally can’t help their leering eyes, Jake and Beverly constitute a diversion from all the surrounding madness, where a split-screen telephone call results in their first official date, quickly realizing that opposites attract, as she’s an illustrious member of the theater department, vying with other rabid theater majors for any part in the school productions, where the competition is a huge step up from high school when these two were at the top of the food chain, getting all the recognition, while now they’re both just hoping for an opportunity. Admittedly awkward at first, where she has a giant poster of Joni Mitchell in her dorm room, they quickly develop a conversational rhythm and an easy feel for each other, developing into romance, as she invites him to a theater party later that evening. Of course, once they hear about it, all the other baseball bums want a free invite, giving him the business until he relents. While the film’s music and décor, not to mention hair and fashion styles, are uncannily accurate, it still feels ridiculously silly to witness a scene of all the young dudes stuffed into a car rapping energetically to Sugarhill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight” EVERYBODY WANTS SOME Movie Clip - Rappers Driving (2016) Richard Linklater Comedy HD (1:02), each one carrying their own verse, never missing a beat, where the artificial staginess of the choreographed routine somehow mocks the more familiar natural vibe of this director. The film is a testament, however, to how routinely guys cover up their insecurities and overall awkwardness, especially at this stage in their lives, turning the art of courtship into a game of showmanship and male dominance, a kind of diversionary pretense where instead of paying attention to the young ladies, it’s still all about themselves, where they remain the center of attention, an egotistical state of mind from which they have no escape. Part of this is the adulation and special attention that is heaped upon gifted athletes starting from a young age, whether deserved or not, where it creates a euphoric condition inside their own swelled heads that makes them think they are somehow invincible. While much of this feels like being stuck at an endless frat party, it is a time capsule of a more innocent time when it was easier not to be deluged by the problems of the real world.