Everybody Wants Some!!, 2016.
Written and Directed by Richard Linklater.
Starring Blake Jenner, Zoey Deutch, Tyler Hoechlin, Ryan Guzman, Glenn Powell, Austin Amelio, Juston Street, Will Brittain, Temple Baker, J. Quinton Johnson, and Wyatt Russell.
A group of college baseball players navigate their way through the freedoms and responsibilities of unsupervised adulthood.
Everybody Wants Some!! sets its tone with its opening seconds; ‘My Sharona’ by The Knack blasting on cassette over a distinctly era appropriate vehicle’s sound system with a college freshman tapping his hands along to the beat, while we survey both the inside of the car and the southern Texas scenery. Some films spend their entire running time attempting to successfully transport viewers to the another world never achieving it, while some desperately try and fail miserably. Others don’t make an effort at all, rendering the setting worthless to the experience. Everybody Wants Some!! plants its audience firmly in the year 1980 from the get-go, also establishing a mood of youthful fun.
Young Jake (Blake Jenner) is a college freshman on his way to live in one of two neighboring houses paid for by the Southern Texas University, which is essentially an off-campus dorm for its baseball team, and it quickly becomes apparent that most of the guys, while bearing many slight differences in physical appearance and voices, seemingly have one goal on their mind; slay as many college chicks as humanly possible on the road to triumph as a prestigious baseball team. However, that is just the surface level narrative, meaning that it is absolutely incorrect to label Everybody Wants Some!! as nothing more than a random stoner comedy about single-minded, hedonistic jocks chasing tail, consuming unhealthy amounts of alcohol (on a daily basis too), hazing each other, acting out as competitive jerks (often among each other), and generally indulging in debauchery.
After all, this is a film from writer/director Richard Linklater (Boyhood, The Before Trilogy, and obviously Dazed and Confused, which this movie is considered a spiritual sequel to), who’s clear knack is superbly taking situations and characters grounded in reality, using them as a vessel to say something thematically about living in the moment, enjoying life, and finding yourself and embracing that person. Everybody Wants Some!! Is no exception, but it uses the transitioning from the 70s to the 80s, competition, and passion for whatever satisfies someone emotionally, all to make the free-wheeling, highly loose narrative stand out.
On the weekend leading up to the fall semester, the teammates head out to party and socialize every night, and thanks to circumstances that you will just have to see play out for yourself, they wind up in different areas and clubs that naturally each have distinct genre music. This obviously makes for quite an eclectic soundtrack full of easily identifiable era classics (everything from Pink Floyd to Van Halen to Queen to Pat Benatar and so many more are present), commenting on how different styles and lyrics communicate to individual minds. In some ways it is a subtle examination of how music affected the time period and its inhabitants.
What’s extraordinarily fascinating about Everybody Wants Some!! though is that it could also qualify as a low-key sports movie. The dialogue is loaded with baseball terminology (including numerous brilliant bits of wordplay relating the act of baseball and targeting women sexually) that allow the perfectly measured script to play out on multiple levels. The characters themselves, as previously mentioned, are highly competitive (it doesn’t matter if it’s Space Invaders, ping pong, or other more absurd exercises), with the film suggesting that tough-spirited camaraderie between teammates build a stronger relationship, paving the way for a unified force that can actually make the playoffs and potentially win championships.
Also, from everything described, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that you are assuming all of these youngsters must be insufferable douches to party with, and to be fair, their personalities aren’t exactly pleasant, but all of the players are undeniably charming. The beauty of Everybody Wants Some!! is that one could read five different reviews for the film, and there is a very probable chance that each individual critic will have a unique favorite scene stealer. And that’s the thing; they are all truly scene stealers. My personal favorite is either the lovingly dimwitted Plummer (Temple Baker) or the loose cannon “raw dog” Jay (Juston Street). It’s also worth mentioning that Blake Jenner does a great job with the role of Jake, allowing the audience to connect with him as someone not only unsure of who he is exactly, but also someone unfamiliar with the new surroundings and individuals stepping into his life. Essentially, the movie sometimes comes across as his revolving door interactions with the rest of the easily distinguished teammates.
This is considerably more impressive considering just how many names and faces there are to keep track of. From the beginning, you expect that many of them will quickly begin fading into the background, but rest assured that Richard Linklater has a moment and purpose for each positional player. It also helps that his script never really judges these characters, presenting them as they are for who they are, which is essentially the entire point of the film; embracing and accepting the inner strangeness that resides in everyone.
It’s also not like the few female characters present are there solely just to get laid. Some clearly enjoy the debauchery just as much as the men, but most importantly, there is a strong-minded pseud0-love interest for Jake that is into theatrical arts. Linklater uses their brief time together to explore some rich conversations regarding finding what you have a burning desire to do in life, and just going for it, not worried about success or failure. The pair couldn’t be any more different yet are still exactly the same, and it’s a beautifully illuminating insight on the nature of humanity; deep down we are all striving to make something of ourselves.
Everybody Wants Some!! also touches on what happens when you live in the moment for far too long then you probably should, but it’s not something worth delving into for fear of spoilers. It’s just a really nice touch towards the end of the film that is poignant to the thematic presence of the narrative, and one of the most interesting revelations about life to ponder. When should the party end?
All of this motif talk probably has you wondering if this is even a comedy, but that’s just the thing: this is a comedy. A vulgar, profanity fueled, hedonistic, drug-laced laugh riot that rarely ceases being funny. There are one or two moments where the movie focuses a bit too much on its message, leaving you yearning to get back to more ludicrous shenanigans, but for the most part, there is an amazing tonal balancing act on display. It is safe to say that Everybody Wants Some!! is a hoot from beginning to end, wisely crafted, and will make you wish you were 18 again. The greatest strength about the movie might be that it makes you actually want to be around people you most likely would hate interacting with otherwise.
It also needs to be said that just like how Dazed and Confused tackled teenagers navigating life in the 70s while giving so many unheard of actors at the time (Matthew McConaughey, Ben Affleck, and Milla Jovovich just to name a few) a spotlight, Richard Linklater has once again absolutely made a few stars with Everybody Wants Some!!.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★