15 July 2016

On Home Video: Everybody Wants Some!!

I'm pretty sure if I met Richard Linklater, we would instantly hit it off. He just gets it. His first great idiosyncratic comedy, the late-seventies one-nighter Dazed and Confused, served as an inspiration for my and my friends' teenage antics. His new one in that same vein, serves as a sort of "spiritual sequel" to the former, and works for me as a remembrance of college. Seriously, the events of this film are dangerously close to some of my college experiences. Seriously. Just not in as short a succession. (Don't judge me. I was a moron.)

What works so well about Everybody Wants Some is that for every time it goes completely over the top, it also does something so strikingly real and honest, I couldn't help but relate. Here is a movie about dudes sitting around, drinking beer, smoking a little, and talking about chicks half the time. The other half of their lives is devoted to crashing random clubs and parties and actually talking to chicks, or trying to. Occasionally, they have baseball practice. And they're good. Possible contenders. That about sums it up.

As a through line, we have Jake (Blake Jenner), one of a few new freshmen on the baseball team at an unnamed university in Texas circa 1980, and his initiation to the baseball house (since the athletic dorms don't have room for them) over the weekend before classes start. Here is a dwelling whose defining characteristic is a floor that's about to cave in. (Been there. Ask me about the house two of my best friends lived in near campus.)

There, he meets a group of fellas (more than a dozen of them) who not only rival the gang over in Animal House but might actually beat them in terms of both drinking and chasing chicks. The wealth of great characters, all played by unknown actors, can only be hinted at. My favorites are the mustachioed older guys on the team, McReynolds (Tyler Hoechlin) and Finnegan (Glen Powell), so well seasoned...at everything. And the pothead California transfer, Willoughby (Wyatt Russell), instantly my favorite movie character of the year so far. It is Russell, so perfect as Willoughby, who charges the single best scene in the film. A simple one. The best one. One involving a record player spinning Pink Floyd's under-appreciated gem, "Fearless," four dudes, and a bong. I laughed my ass off, knowing that I have both given that rant and received it...many times. College....

This is the genius of Linklater. So many filmmakers have made movies like this. In fact, there are at least a dozen a year now. Hard R-rated comedies about dudes and drinking and parties and naked chicks. They mostly don't work (see: Dirty Grandpa). The majority that fail are missing what Linklater has...a voice. The actress Zoey Deutch plays Beverly, the artsy chick who catches our hero Jake's eye early on. A no-nonsense type ready to experience college, in her way, just as Jake is. She was also the love interest to Zac Efron in the inferior aforementioned comedy. There she was dead before the camera even rolled. Totally pointless for how good an actress she actually is. Here, she is a living, breathing human being, living it up on her own terms. It's actually refreshing.

We can bicker about little things. Sure. There is no plot really at all. There is no change in the characters. No dramatic arc. It even bothered me for a few seconds in the middle. But then I just started laughing again, realizing that these are just fun, cool, nice people. The laughs aren't huge booming ones but knowing ones, fun ones, nostalgic ones. And that's the thing...

Richard Linklater started his brilliantly executed career by making a movie about his Slacker generation and followed it up with an American Graffiti-esque remembrance of high school in his time, the late 1970s. These are movies where characters actually talk, and we listen because they are us and they are our friends. That can't be said about most comedies.

Here Linklater has shown us another piece of himself, the aimless college baseball playing Texas kid he was by 1980, and he has captured another era and its music (an expansive mixture of rock and disco and country and hip hop and even some New Wave) and its mindset and its slackers and it is all joyous, ending at a beginning instead of an end. Yes! That's something he does, isn't it? Slacker? Dazed and Confused? The Before Trilogy? Waking Life? Boyhood? Now, Everybody Wants Some.

It's not that they don't have plots. It's that Linklater's movies simply don't end. They contain a magical drug called optimism. Put that in your pipe and smoke it, then tell everyone how good it is.

Everybody Wants Some!!
dir. Richard Linklater
Starring Blake Jenner, Tyler Hoechlin, Ryan Guzman, and Zoey Deutch

★★★ out of ★★★


  1. Great review! I was afraid to see this film (the trailer didn't look good), but I always forget how genius Linklater is. Boyhood is one of my favorite films, I don't know why I doubted him.

    1. Thanks! It's all in the writing and casting. Check it out.

  2. Great review! I was really surprised by this one. A movie about lads being lads with virtually no plot sounds like my kind of nightmare but I absolutely loved every minute, I didn't want it to end.
    - Allie

    1. Thanks! And yes. I wanted to keep hanging out with these guys. No doubt.

  3. Awesome review, man. I loved every single minute of this movie. The screenplay was killer, the acting was great (especially the acting from Zoey Deutch, who I think has a great acting future ahead of her), & the soundtrack was excellent. It's probably one of my top 5 favorite movie soundtracks, along with the soundtracks for Almost Famous, Boogie Nights, High Fidelity, & Purple Rain.

    This is probably one of my top 3 favorite Richard Linklater movies. I loved Boyhood (which I need to re-watch. On a side note, The Criterion Collection is releasing it in October. Finally!), & I loved Dazed & Confused, & I liked his more mainstream films, like School of Rock & Bad News Bears. I sadly haven't seen Slacker (although I do own it), nor have I seen the Before Trilogy (although I do own all 3 films), or Waking Life, or any of his other films. I know, I desperately need to catch up on Richard Linklater's films. But he is an excellent filmmaker, & an excellent storyteller. I think me & him would hit it off as well.

    1. I must say, my favorite character of this movie was Jay Niles (played by Juston Street), the guy from Detroit (yes, I am biased because the character is from Detroit) with a mid 90's fastball & a cocky attitude.

      I think the inspiration for him was a pitcher for the Detroit Tigers in the late 1970's by the name of Mark Fidrych, commonly referred to as "The Bird." He was famous for his antics on the mound, namely talking to the ball & manicuring the mound every inning. He also had an electric fastball. He won the AL Rookie of the Year that year, but he wasn't the same after that due to rotator cuff injuries. (I've heard rumors that he got into an argument with a guy at a Foghat concert, & the guy twisted Fidrych's arm, causing him to injure his rotator cuff. But I digress…) Sadly, Fidrych passed away tragically back in 2009 at the age of 54. Apparently, he was working on a truck, & his clothes got entangled with a spinning power takeoff. But I've heard stories from my mom about wanting to go to a game where he was pitching, just to see how great he was, & of course to see his antics. And from what I've seen, he was great that year. And his antics were definitely odd. In fact, MLB Network did a special on him last week (which I sadly have not watched yet). (I know I digressed a bit with this, but it's a necessary digression).

      Anyway, Niles is (in my opinion) one of the erratically hilarious pitchers in movies or TV, along with Charlie Sheen's Ricky "Wild Thing" Vaughn in Major League, & Danny McBride's Kenny Powers in the hilarious TV show, Eastbound & Down.

    2. Man, you really dug this one, huh? I haven't seen all of Linklater but have seen all of his more personal films, like this one. Love the baseball trivia. Thanks for that.

    3. Yeah. I loved it. It's one of my top 5 films of the year so far, along with The Lobster, Demolition, The Nice Guys, & Green Room.

    4. And I had to give some baseball trivia with that. He was too similar to Fidrych not to give trivia.