Mark Reviews Movies

Everybody Wants Some!!


3 Stars (out of 4)

Director: Richard Linklater

Cast: Blake Jenner, Tyler Hoechlin, Glen Powell, Zoey Deutch, J. Quinton Johnson, Wyatt Russell, Juston Street, Ryan Guzman, Will Brittain, Forrest Vickery, Temple Baker, Tanner Kalina, Austin Amelio

MPAA Rating: R (for language throughout, sexual content, drug use and some nudity)

Running Time: 1:56

Release Date: 3/30/16 (limited); 4/1/16 (wider); 4/8/16 (wide)

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Review by Mark Dujsik | March 31, 2016

Everybody Wants Some!! presents a string of moments, unhindered by something as unnecessary as a plot but connected by the inescapable routine of college life. The moments are the stuff that we remember from college: the way everything that happened before a party was just wasting away the time before the party started and the way the party would move from one location to another, because everyone believed the party was wherever he or she and their specific group of friends happened to be.

Classes didn't matter as much—if at all, in certain cases. They were hours-long interruptions from what one really wanted to be doing, and whatever one might have learned in the classroom seemed insignificant compared to the talk about music you had with a buddy the night before. All those conversations, which eventually led to some (in retrospect) obvious revelation, seemed to hold greater import than they would years later, because they came at a time when everyone was trying to figure out who they were and what their place in their world was.

Writer/director Richard Linklater's film is set in the days before classes start, as incoming freshmen get a crash course in what the college experience really is. A lot of it is the pressure of needing to fit in with a certain crowd—the "certain" part being determined by one's living arrangements, major, and/or interests. In the film, it's the college's baseball team, who live together in two houses next-door to each other, have no real concern over what their major might be, and, obviously, love the game to one degree or another. The rest of the college experience is the desire to indulge in the illusion of freedom that college offers.

Without parents, any real obligations, or restrictions, that freedom inevitability displays itself as long nights of drinking, dancing, and pursuing as many women as necessary to find one who will go back to the house, as well as lazy days of recovering from the night before, doing drugs, having those conversations, and waiting for another round of partying. It becomes a pattern. The places and faces may change from night to night, but nothing else really does.

The film doesn't have anything meaningful to say about this pattern or the reason it exists for these characters, save for what a few of the characters themselves have to say for those things. It accepts them as facts and observes what happens as a result. The film plays like one of those college comedies from the 1980s but without the misanthropy or need for manufactured comic setpieces.

It helps that these characters recognize it, even if some of them don't care or have the ability to put it into words, and that their behavior is harmless (except for the toll on their livers) while their intentions are mostly innocent. These are likeable, affable characters, and one of them even grows up a little bit by the end. It's a small step, but small steps are to be expected when most of one's time is devoted to the aforementioned activities.

At a college in Texas in 1980, Jake (Blake Jenner) has arrived to start his freshman year. He was a star pitcher in high school, but now he finds himself on a team with two other guys who want to play that position and some teammates, like McReynolds (Tyler Hoechlin), who have an anti-pitcher bias. The only upcoming obligation is the team's first practice, which the coach (Jonathan Breck) announces on the day of everyone's arrival/return to school. He also gives the team the only two rules of the house: no alcohol and no women upstairs. Both of those rules are broken later that day.

Some of the other characters include Dale (J. Quinton Johnson), who is one of the first teammates to show Jake some respect, Jay (Juston Street), who attempts to create a legend around himself that everyone can see through, Nesbit (Austin Amelio), who doesn't know how betting works but is addicted to odd gambles, and Billy (Will Brittain), who disappears after a day away from home to see his high-school sweetheart. The resident philosophers of the house are Finn (Glen Powell) and Willoughby (Wyatt Russell). Finn believes he is the only one of them who recognizes that he won't be playing baseball after college, and Willoughby turns out to be someone who cannot escape the sport—or maybe he simply doesn't want to deny himself the sort of camaraderie that comes with the territory.

The draw of that camaraderie is at the heart of the film, and it's not as simple as an amiable bond between young men with shared interests. It is, as a character states after an intense match of table tennis, about the competitive nature that they all share. It's good, in theory, for them as a baseball team on the field, but aside from the practice late in the film, we never actually see them playing baseball. The competitiveness, then, is in their daily routines (trying to outdo each other with bong hits or a "game" of flicking another person's knuckles bloody until someone surrenders) and nightly attempts at sexual conquests.

So goes the film, with an understanding of how these characters operate and with only the conflicts that they themselves bring. The routine breaks with the last act, which begins with Jake finally working up the nerve to talk to Beverly (Zoey Deutch), whom he meets near the start of the film. She gets it, too, in her own way, with her own group of friends and acquaintances. It's a simple revelation that comes from this relationship, but Everybody Wants Some!! also knows that the simplest revelations in college are sometimes the most important.

Copyright © 2016 by Mark Dujsik. All rights reserved.

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