Movie Review: Everybody Wants Some!!

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A freshman baseball player meets and bonds with his new team during the wild weekend before he starts university.

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Richard Linklater, 2016

It’s 1980, and Jake (Blake Jenner) has just arrived in Texas to attend university. He makes it to the collapsing house he will share with his baseball teammates, a colourful bunch of characters who barely acknowledge him when he first appears. Over the next few days, Jake bonds with his teammates while discovering what campus life is all about. He meets Beverly (Zoey Deutch), who flirts with him in front of the team. He and the team try on a number of hats as they party all night, attending, among others, a disco nightclub and a punk concert. Jake is mentored primarily by the intellectual, posturing Finnegan (Glen Powell), while the team’s captain McReynolds (Tyler Hoechlin) antagonises him. Meanwhile, overly competitive transfer Jay (Juston Street) threatens to get the whole group in trouble at every turn. Jake tries to find a place in the competitive environment of the house.

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Everybody Wants Some!! is a lush, nostalgic film that relies on the charm of its actors to win the audience over. Fortunately the young cast is more than up to the challenge, creating a realistic, naturalistic chemistry that makes the film light and fun. Each of the baseball team members has moments where they are likeable and unlikeable, kind and unkind. While the plot is thin on the ground, the movie does revolve around a timeline; every so often a countdown to Jake’s first class appears on screen, giving us a sense of the time that has passed and how much longer we’ll have until the movie finishes. The act structure is nebulous, but there’s a clear journey that Jake undertakes – while he doesn’t have any big moments of realisation, we see him tagging along as the older students dictate the activities until finally Jake finds something (or someone) that he’s interested in and finds his feet. It’s a microcosm of four years of university in four days and, more importantly, nights. The film’s recreation of 1980 is fantastic. The costumes and hair – oh, the hair – are wonderful, creating a very real-feeling 1980 instead of the overly shiny version we can see in films like The Nice Guys. The soundtrack is killing it – a sequence showcasing the boys singing along to Rapper’s Delight as the camera drifts in and out of their car is gorgeous.

Once hailed as a visionary filmmaker, Richard Linklater has become somewhat stuck in his style. Yes, Everybody Wants Some!! is a great example of that style, but it’s a shame that Linklater doesn’t seem interested in extending himself. Here again he focuses entirely on the male experience, with very few women characters getting more than one or two lines each. Only Beverly, Jake’s love interest, gets anything to do, and that thing is mostly be cute – which admittedly Zoey Deutch does well, but I think it speaks to Linklater’s view of women that he can’t be bothered coming up with anything better for them to do. The film puts masculinity on full display, frequently toxic and sexist (and not exactly big on racial diversity), but also self-aware and contemplative. Glen Powell’s Finn is a good choice to lead Jake through this world he’s been dropped into, because Finn is capable of examining the choices he and his friends are making, while most of his teammates are less introspective. There’s plenty of comedy provided by the supporting the supporting cast, including Tyler Hoechlin, who shines in a comedic role as the deceptively macho McReynolds, and Wyatt Russell makes a funny stoner as Willoughby. Blake Jenner anchors the film with quite, square-jawed charm. It’s a warm, fun movie that doesn’t push enough boundaries.

Everybody Wants Some!! on IMDb

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