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Friday, April 8, 2016

Review: EVERYBODY WANTS SOME!! headed for cult classic status

After Boyhood's story spanned 12 years - in both real time and on-screen - it seems only fitting that writer and director Richard Linklater condensed his next film, Everybody Wants Some!!, into the course of a single weekend.

Pitched as a sort of spiritual sequel to Dazed and Confused, which featured a group of high school kids in the '70s, Everybody Wants Some!! picks up on the precipice of baseball player Jake's freshman year of college in the '80s.  The film opens with Jake's drive into his college town and follows him as he bunks up in what is essentially a baseball player fraternity. After trying to carve out a small sense of identity for himself within the house and his team, Jake moves onto the parties on his campus and tries to establish his place in the world in a broader sense.

If that sounds overly intellectual or difficult, though, rest assured: it isn't. This is also a breezy and funny movie about sex, drugs, drinking, and even disco. As Jake observes and participates in his new sense of freedom, he does it with complete joy. In traditional Linklater fashion, Everybody Wants Some!! throws away a standard story structure in favor of authentic, smaller moments. Most of those moments manage to feel real enough to have been pulled from Linklater's own life, but polished just enough to give the viewer a sense of heavy, rose-tinted nostalgia.

What's most refreshing about Everybody Wants Some!!, though, is that it's not here to judge anyone. A film that follows a testosterone-fueled pack of men on a college sports team could have treated its own characters with disdain, but that would have been a mistake. Linklater allows his ensemble to be identified as more than stereotypical jocks or any one specific thing, which in turn lends to that feeling of authenticity and joy.

The cast of this film is made almost of entirely lesser known actors, much like Dazed and Confused was at the time (which is hard to believe, looking back at how famous many of its actors are now). Several of them look perhaps a little old for the parts, but the casting is otherwise spot on and the acting and chemistry between the actors is phenomenal.

I don't have any real criticism for Everybody Wants Some!! It's a film that knows exactly what it wants to be, and I think it accomplishes that on every level. It's not a movie that showcases females or minorities - it is a quintessential tale of a white male perspective that probably wouldn't pass the oft-condemned Bechdel test - but given the focused nature of Jake's circle and his experiences, it makes sense. There's a difference between a focused and thoughtful narrative vs. stories that manage to be both generic and exclusive, and Everybody Wants Some!! is a perfect example of those differences.

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