Directed by: Richard Linklater
Premise: Set on a college campus in 1980, a college freshman (Blake Jenner) moves into a house with other baseball players. In the days before classes begin, he gets to know his teammates and meets new people amid parties and bar crawls.
What Works: The 1993 movie Dazed and Confused told the story of mid-1970s high school students on their last day of classes. That film became a cult classic and it introduced mainstream audiences to filmmaker Richard Linklater who had already earned renown for his 1991 movie Slacker and would go on to make movies like the Before Sunrise trilogy School of Rock, Bernie, and Boyhood. A lot of the press around 2016’s Everybody Wants Some!! has framed the movie as Linklater’s return to the themes of his early films. In truth, the themes of Linklater’s filmography are pretty consistent with his movies frequently centering on male protagonists who come of age and learn lessons about love, responsibility, and identity. But Everybody Wants Some!! does share some of the same tonal and stylistic qualities with Dazed and Confused and it has some of the same appeals. Everybody Wants Some!! takes place in a house full of college baseball players with the story rotating around a freshman (Blake Jenner) who has just moved into the residence. The most impressive quality of Everybody Wants Some!! is its authenticity. The filmmakers reconstruct the look and feel of 1980 in the costumes, sets, and the dialogue. But the picture is also authentic in its portrayal of masculinity. In much the same way that Boyhood documented the growth of a young man from adolescence to adulthood, Everybody Wants Some!! places the audience among this group of macho and competitive males and it plays as an observational piece. This is important to note because there is a thin line between this movie and sexist dreck like Entourage and viewers who aren’t looking closely might confuse the two. While a lot of the guys in Everybody Wants Some!! are piggish and entitled and frequently objectify women, this movie both enjoys their youth and is aware of how ridiculousness these men are. And that is what is so impressive about Everybody Wants Some!! The movie takes the audience into the coarseness of a male space and doesn’t try to clean it up or apologize for it. Linklater wants us to see youthful masculinity of a particular place and time and the picture has a good laugh while doing it, finding the humor in the men’s hijinks while also joining them in the search for identity.
What Doesn’t: There is one respect in which Everybody Wants Some!! falters in its authenticity. This movie was shot with digital cameras and so the visuals have a very clean and clear look. The digital sheen is at odds with the analog style of the rest of the movie and Everybody Wants Some!! would have a stronger verisimilitude if it had been shot on celluloid. This movie is consistent with Richard Linklater’s other work but the observational cinema verite style that played so powerfully in Boyhood and the Before Sunrise trilogy doesn’t have the same impact here. That may be due to the narrow scope of the movie. It doesn’t have the expanse of Boyhood nor does it have the intimacy of the Before Sunrise films. A lot of these characters are rather dumb. That’s part of the point and the appeal of the movie may vary depending on the viewer’s age. Everybody Wants Some!! will probably play best for people who are just beyond their “young and stupid” years and can see it with the right proportion of nostalgia and clarity. Viewers who are too young for the movie may not see it for what it is and those who are too old for it may find the movie embarrassing or just be turned off by the characters’ stupidity.
DVD extras: Outtakes and featurettes.
Bottom Line: Everybody Wants Some!! is a fun motion picture that immerses the audience within a masculine group and finds a lot of comedy there. This isn’t at the level of Richard Linklater’s best work but it does have a sincerity and an understated truthfulness about it that makes this movie more than it initially appears to be.
Episode: #608 (August 21, 2016)