Richard Linklater (director of ‘Boyhood‘, and the highly acclaimed ‘Before...’ trilogy) is once again in the directors seat for ‘Everybody Wants Some!!‘. Curiously named after a Van Halen song, this film follows Jake (Blake Jenner) a freshman sharing a rundown house with the rest of his baseball team. It is set in Texas in 1980.
First, and foremost, it is important to note the tone of the film. ‘Everybody Wants Some!!‘ is a film about lads on a baseball team. The main focus of the narrative is the characters in pursuit of young women (oh, and sport too). A feminist reading might rip this to shreds. There are, however, a few redeeming factors. Most notably, our protagonist Jake seems more measured, less macho, and less misogynistic, in comparison to his housemates.
This film treads the line of realistic portrayal very finely. Let’s face it, there are a ton of other movies about young men seeking sex from the past two decades of Hollywood. In the hands of Linklater this is just about okay. If you’re looking for something that passes the Bechdel test, this is not the film for you.
It is interesting that we seem to be looking down on these characters. There are a number of devices that indicate this intention. The song in the title is talked about. One of the main characters, Willoughby (Wyatt Russell), tells the younger (more naïve) members of the group how the the music of Van Halen only represents a consumerist right leaning America. This says a lot about our positioning in the film as the audience. It is just one of several things that makes us think less of the characters.
It is difficult, though, to align yourself with any of them. They sit around half-concentrating on Jack Kerouac novels, and compete against each other on an almost constant basis. They play knuckles, table football, ping pong, snooker, et al. Although we are deliberately introduced to the characters before they formally begin their studies, the narrative is slow to progress.
The music shows different emotions and moods, darting between the diegetic and non-diegetic form. These characters care about music. They own records, and talk about songs. At some 45 songs long, the soundtrack tells us a lot about the narrative. Even if you discount some of these choices as tracks used to establish time or space, you’re still left with a bunch of songs that seem to speak more powerfully than the characters can articulate otherwise. It’s hit and miss.
We get some fantastic sequences that look like music videos, reminiscent of Roeg’s 1970 film ‘Performance‘. At its worst the soundtrack gets too involved, like a bored teenager changing a CD every other minute. Song is undoubtedly the most recognisable form of pop culture reference here though.
Like many other elements in the film the music represents some great ideas. It is just a pity those ideas are never given opportunity to become fully realised. There are some strong performances. The cinematography and editing are both on point too. The subject of the film is the lifestyle of young, mostly male, college students. It is a shame then, that the main focus is the hyper competitive macho displays of sexuality. ‘Everybody Wants Some!!‘ offers little in the way of anything deeper than that.
[rating=3] | Zach Roddis
Comedy | USA, 2016 | 15 | Entertainment One UK | 19th September 2016 (UK) | Dir.Richard Linklater | Blake Jenner, Zoey Deutch, Tyler Hoechlin, Glen Powell, Juston Street |Buy:Everybody Wants Some!! [DVD]