Everybody Wants Some!! (2016) - Can't Stop the Movies
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Everybody Wants Some!! (2016)

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College officially starts in three days - just enough time for the baseball team to get comfortable with the freshman, hook up at parties, imbibe some chemicals, and share a little philosophy.  Richard Linklater wrote the screenplay for and directs Everybody Wants Some!!, and stars an ensemble cast led by Blake Jenner and Glen Powell.

When Matthew McConaughey's David Wooderson rolled into Richard Linklater's Dazed and Confused, he condensed all the pleasures and problems with Linklater's writing by uttering, “That’s what I love about these high school girls, man. I get older, they stay the same age.”  The trick to that line, and how similar Linklater dialogue worked in the interim, is that the speaker is pathetic.  Other boys in the same scene take turns joking around with him, but when he utters the line they all have to avert their gaze and in low volume tell him he's going to jail some day.  Fun is fun until the reality of fun is checking out girls barely half his age.

Cut to twenty-three years later and Linklater has continued making great filmsEverybody Wants Some!! (Everybody moving forward) is not one of them, though not without its charm.  Unfortunately, the charm is attached to a mob of college men who took the lessons of David Wooderson to heart.  They're all bravado to the point of transparent cockiness, many sporting mustaches to varying degrees of success, and chase dream women who want to have sex with them as much as the men want to have sex with the women.  Everybody is the dream Wooderson has when he goes home alone and I spent most of the movie wondering if anyone would wake up.

The women in Everybody Wants Some!! walk in the kind of slow motion haze that only exists in movies made by men.

Part of me wants to say Linklater's got a freebie this time around.  He's called the men in his movies out before, though not terribly often, and we get some slick profundity out of the resulting conflict.  Why not let him indulge the possibility of total fantasy in cinema just this once?  The part of me that whispers, "Let this go," is smothered by the near two hours of Everybody's men going full alpha to a 99% success rate.

I found it exhausting.  Maybe you could pull some of the trademark Linklater profundity out of the many guises the men wear as part of their morning-to-midnight attempts to get laid, high, drunk, or whatever state is something other than what they are.  After all, don't the majority of us go through a period where we reinvent ourselves multiple times?  Mostly true, but Everybody's wanderlust still didn't affect me much.  The men are constantly successful no matter the guise, give or take angry outbursts from Jay (Juston Street) - the comic exaggeration of entitled and racist masculinity in a movie already populated with exaggerated masculine characters.

Part of the problem is Linklater's decision to orbit the plot of Everybody around the abnormal near-perfection of Jake (Blake Jenner).  From the first frame forward, Jake has an uncanny ability to read directly from the screenplay and underline the subtext of whatever scene he's in.  Such postmodern fourth-wall breaking would be annoying if Jenner wasn't so damn natural speaking in Jake's - and by extension Linklater's - voice.  The closest anyone comes to calling another character out is Beverly (Zoey Deutch), who thinks Jake is cute and when she realizes Jake isn't taking her seriously tells him, "You didn't really answer me, you made fun of me."  In the logic of Everybody, that means they're perfect for each other, and share a dream inner-tube trip down the river talking about the connection between Sisyphus and baseball.

The pain of the "good ol' days" so keenly felt in other Linklater movies isn't completely forgotten.  One effective moment has Willoughby (Wyatt Russell) standing alone and forlorn against a clear sky after his coach calls him over.  This breaks the constant party rhythm of multiple characters in each shot, and is punctuated with the wistful, "Here for a good time, not a long time - right?"  It was easily Linklater's best moment in Everybody right up until absurd revelations about Willoughby's age completely derailed the pathos.

Finn, played by Glen Powell on the right, hit a nostalgic spot for me.

Linklater's entire career has been built on fantasies tinged with enough reality to balance the tightrope.  This kind of all-encompassing sensitive masculine wish-fulfillment is what he's managed to avoid.  Everybody is like a Springsteen song without irony, pain, or self-reflection, and when moments are effective Linklater undermines the impact by pushing the fantasy just a little too far.

I'm more disappointed than disapproving, so Everybody doesn't dip into Dislike but Indifferent.  Even with my disappointment, I'm not immune to one semi-painful/joyful tinge of character identification.  Finn (Glen Powell) reminds me of myself in college minus the moustache.  He's a Leo, proud of his ability to blend into different crews without stealing the spotlight, elaborates far too long on his thought process, is thoroughly self-effacing, ribs his friends but - and this is crucial - waits until they've either succeeded or struck out to make with the fun.  The part of me that once sang "Let's Get It On" to a couple who flirted on the ISU quad for what felt like hours was pleased with Finn.  The rest of Everybody?  Not so much.

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Everybody Wants Some!! (2016)

Screenplay written and directed by Richard Linklater.
Starring an ensemble cast led by Blake Jenner and Glen Powell.

Posted by Andrew

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