Everybody Wants Some!!

Review by David Jenkins @daveyjenkins

Directed by

Richard Linklater

Starring

Blake Jenner Tyler Hoechlin Zoey Deutch

Anticipation.

How could Richard Linklater possibly top Boyhood?

Enjoyment.

A marvel. Conjures profound movie poetry out of the dust.

In Retrospect.

The ‘best film of 2016’ race starts here.

Richard Linklater continues his hotter-than-hot streak with this dangerously charming fratboy freakout.

What a beautiful notion it is that people can look up into the night sky and form pictures by joining together the stars. The kids these days are calling them constellations, but the process of training focus on the bounty of nature and forging an artwork in the mind is rather a cinematic gesture. The fact that Ursa Minor looks nothing like a little bear, or The Big Dipper bares scant resemblance to whatever a big dipper is supposed to be, is moot. They’re basic formations around which we can mentally impose an image, just as movies – especially good movies – are packages of information to interpret, expand upon and unpack. What we look at and what we see are often two completely different things.

The stars feature heavily in Richard Linklater’s sweet, salty and soulful new film, Everybody Wants Some!!. The writer/director has called it the “spiritual sequel” to his iconic 1993 party movie, Dazed and Confused, and it certainly fits the highfalutin bill. As with that and so many of Linklater’s other deceptively rambling films, this new one offers the viewer a bunch of things that happen over a period of time, some of which might have life-altering connotations, others just experiential flotsam that got lodged in the director’s memory banks. You can make of them what you will. For your listening pleasure is a welcome mix of alt rock, hair metal and a lip-synced version of ‘Rapper’s Delight’.

Everybody Wants Some!! takes place over a long weekend in 1980, chronicling the booze-fuelled monkeyshines of a fraternity house filled with baseball scholars who are counting down to the start of the new semester. Decked out in ball-hugging slacks and bicep-brandishing tees, the motley crew daisy chain together various leisure activities, the bonding experience more of an excuse than the sincere foundation of their antics. They talk, they drink, they spin records, they smooch with girls, they ride mattresses down a staircase and get into all manner of violent barroom sports contests. Their all-American dudebro intimacy and colourful patter makes them feel like they’ve been air-lifted in from a Vietnam war movie. Or maybe this is Linklater’s answer to Avengers Assemble?

Although parties make up much of the plot, they are details more than the central subject. In Dazed and Confused the climactic shindig acts as a catalyst for all the small, personal dramas. Here, they’re a hotbed of frivolous fun, an outlet for more base expressions, such as mud wrestling. If the stars are pristine and finite, these are the supernovas – glorious to observe, but only from a safe distance.

Talking of stars, they make their first appearance in the Shakespearean sense as our hyper-mellow hero, Jake (Blake Jenner), is spotted in the back seat of a car by Zoey Deutch’s drama sophomore, Beverly. Though the two don’t actually speak, he makes a mental note of where she lives, deflecting the jocular taunts of his housemates to watch which dorm room she enters. The pair don’t meet again until much later in the film, but their paths have crossed and their fate is sealed.

There’s a moment later in the film where Glen Powell’s moustachioed cad, Finnegan, attempts to flirt with a girl by pretending he’s deeply interested in astrology. His prey almost doesn’t see through him, but prying ears enquire as to why he’s chosen to shelve his customary, groin-based pick-up line. Maybe this is Linklater saying that we should look to the stars for images, but not for meaning. And especially not parlay that meaning into a phoney confessional.

The baseball diamond itself is the final constellation – the immovable grid through which balls and bodies fly. Everybody Wants Some!! contains a single scene of baseball being played, and it is perhaps one of the most majestic and lyrical ever captured. Linklater doesn’t strain for effect, or attempt to make the game look artificial through camera trickery or overly-arty framing. The sequence is at once functional and musical, one to be studied and pored over. It’s pure ballet.

Couple the cosmic imagery with the clear-cut partition between blue skies and green fields, and it even recalls the Blue Danube waltz sequence in Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. Linklater explored questions of human evolution in his previous feature, Boyhood, and does so again here, albeit in a more abstract manner. And though evoking Kubrick might dent the film’s empathy credentials, it should be said that this is a shimmering model of humane filmmaking.

This is also a film that confounds expectation, brilliantly challenging the cliché that scholarly life is governed by a rigid cultural caste system. Indeed, it practices what it preaches, showing how easy it is for punks to mix with jocks, jocks with thesps, freshmen with seniors, and everyone with a self-important, goggle-eyed dingus named Jay Niles (Juston Street). Life, it seems, is one big circle-pit of nostalgic bonhomie. Political antagonism is just a state of mind. This film is a flower in the gun barrel of conservative bigotry and arrogance. It’s about the simple joy of making connections.

Alter the settings on our long-range telescopes and we can also see that Linklater’s career has begun to form its own dazzling and complex constellation. Although Dazed and Confused is its closest kin, elements of Everybody Wants Some!! exist in many of his other films: the countercultural city symphony of Slacker; the romantic hypothesising of the Before trilogy; the sincere worship of FM radio stompers in School of Rock; the pop metaphysics of Waking Life; there’s even a link to the chest-bumping camaraderie of The Newton Boys and Bad News Bears.

It’s breathtaking what Linklater is doing, this shape he is building. What’s more gratifying is that, once this structure is finished, people might look at it and see different things. All we can say at this point is… batter up!

Published 12 Mar 2016

Tags: Richard Linklater

Anticipation.

How could Richard Linklater possibly top Boyhood?

Enjoyment.

A marvel. Conjures profound movie poetry out of the dust.

In Retrospect.

The ‘best film of 2016’ race starts here.

Read More

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