Everybody Wants Some!! Review
The crude American sex-comedies of the late 90s and early 2000s - American Pie, Road Trip, The Girl Next Door - were some of my favourite films growing up. When I watched them I felt confident and assured in myself. My self-consciousness dissolved: they defined ‘feel good’ for me. Watching Everybody Wants Some!! had a startlingly similar affect, yet its appeal will stretch far beyond those navigating the uncertain waters of adolescence. While it shares plenty in common with the pictures mentioned above, Richard Linklater’s film is more considered and thought provoking, far less reliant on shock value and vulgarity. It’s a hilarious, brilliantly enjoyable film about friendship, the endless possibilities of youth and yes, partying and getting laid.
Set in Texas in 1980, the film follows a group of baseball players enjoying their final weekend before classes begin, and is set entirely over this four-day period. Pitcher Jake (Blake Jenner) is moving into a house inhabited solely by members of the University’s baseball team as he embarks on his first year away at college. The typical elements of cinema’s representation of American college life are introduced immediately: a house seemingly purpose built for throwing parties, uninterrupted alcohol consumption, and immature guys whose obsession with girls is matched only by their craving to compete with one another at every possible opportunity. As the hours tick by to the start of the term, the older members of the team take the opportunity to get to know the new recruits (which includes the brilliantly goofy Tanner Kalina as Brumley), showing them a good time while making sure they know their place within the team’s established hierarchy.
Friendship is a central theme in Everybody Wants Some!!. Linklater’s ability to capture with such authenticity life-long bonds as they’re forming is ultimately what makes this film so charming and funny. The camaraderie amongst the team is incredibly genuine, the group dynamics nailed to a tee. They’re competitive, always willing to make a joke at another’s expense, each with their own idiosyncrasies that the others are only too happy to pick up on. It's no surprise to read that the cast all spent a number of weeks together bonding and preparing for the shoot in Linklater's ranch in Austin.
Beneath the rivalry and one-upmanship however, there is a deep bond and understanding between the team that will resonate with many viewers. It’s simply a joy to watch them spending time with each other – drinking, playing pool, getting ready - however mundane or ordinary it might be, it’s in these moments that Linklater delicately crafts a film of real emotional depth. As with all friendship groups, each individual here is a unique part of a whole, albeit an often dysfunctional one. Finnagan (Glen Powell) is the smooth talking funny one, Willoughby (Wyatt Russell) the reflective, philosophical one, McReynolds (Tyler Hoechlin) the de-facto leader. They might all share a passion for baseball, but you don't need to have been anywhere near a baseball diamond to intuitively understand and enjoy the connection they have with one another.
Linklater’s treatment of romance is similarly effective in it’s ability to convey feelings we’ll all be intimately familiar with. In one scene a split screen is used as Blake and Beverley (the charming Zoey Deutch) chat over the phone in what is their first real conversation having shared a brief moment earlier. Close-up shots capture the nervous excitement they’re feeling as they awkwardly flirt. The chemistry is tangible. It's a position we've all been in at one time or another, where there's a connection with someone you hardly know and you’re not quite sure where it's going or what it means, but it’s exciting and instinctive. It’s such a perfectly constructed scene that you feel you could watch them talking on the phone for hours.
The tinge of existential reflection that can be found in most of Linklater’s work is present here too. 'Embrace your inner strange’ Willoughby advises Blake over a game of pool, while one of Finnigan’s many great lines has him observing lucidly that pressure is merely a choice. One night they end up at a hardcore punk concert, the next they’re at a fancy dress Musical Theatre Party, having a great time despite appearing to be completely out of place at both. There’s wisdom to be found in Everybody Wants Some!!, be comfortable with yourself, live in the moment, embrace the experience.
Richard Linklater has become something of an expert in presenting the ordinary in such a way that it speaks of something infinitely more profound. Everybody Wants Some!!, like Boyhood, is a great example of this. It’s not what happens here that’s important, but how it happens. In an interview I read recently a phrase kept cropping up amongst the cast, 'Emotional Intelligence'. Apparently Linklater has it in abundance. In other words, he understands people. Everybody Wants Some!! is that understanding brought to life on the big screen. The result is a picture that is as enlightening as it is entertaining. Watch and enjoy.