Everybody Wants Some!!

July 21, 2016

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Lightness is an undervalued quality in the modern film environment.  That shouldn’t be confused with “insubstantial”, because that, as ever, abounds.  But lightness is rare virtue, probably because of long-held beliefs in storytelling and “conflict” being, fairly, more dramatically interesting than not.  A few years ago, Jon Favreau cashed in some Iron Man cache and made Chef, a wispy nothing of a film that, meta-textually, hilariously staked a claim for giving up on the corporate demands and getting back to something “true”.  Not only was that notion ridiculous, but the film itself had no conflict whilst also having no characters worth investing in (despite a solidly charming turn by John Leguizamo).  I thought of Chef a few times during Richard Linklater’s Everybody Wants Some!!, a film that tries a little too hard in its early stages to establish it’s quirky bro ball players before hitting a kind of casual stride that, despite having no real conflict and not much of what can be considered a climax, still leaves you wanting more.  

Chef was a vanity project, lifting bits of Ratatouille with strains to an older indie-credibility Favreau only really successfully achieved with Swingers.  Linklater, on the other hand, epitomizes the 90s effortlessness.  He’s the kind of filmmaker that can hit a deep insight whilst simultaneously shrugging it off as just another thing.  He has a deeply felt humanism that unifies all of his films, a theme closely followed by his genuine belief that outsiders and different social tribes can revel in their similarities and their differences at the same time.  This is probably due in no small part from his identity as an Austinite – that strange, artistic paradise in a sea of the generally conservative Texas that still manages to fold both aspects into its identity.  It’s not a rebellion, for him, but a broader identity inclusion.  The fact that he, like the characters in Everybody, played college ball probably has a lot to do with it as well.  This is a film that is primarily concerned with drifting through 4 days with college jocks as they immerse themselves in a weekend of parties and trying to get laid, and not much else.  

There’s not even much in the way of traditional bonding – everyone starts out reasonably accepting of the newcomers and they all more or less stay that way.  Minor acting out is noted, folded into the character’s’ understanding of each other, and then never really addressed again.  The closest thing to a plot, as it were, is freshman Jake Bradford (Blake Jenner) and his quest to get a date with a specific girl, Beverly (Zoey Deutch, doing a lot with a little screen time), rather than just any girl.  They go to a club, they continue partying at home, they go to a bar, they go to the club again, they go to a country shindig, they go home, they go to a punk show, they have a party, they have a baseball practice, they swim, and then they go to another party.  That’s, essentially, all there is to it, even if that’s a pretty impressive run for four days.  
What it really is, I suppose, is a nostalgic man fondly looking back on good times that shape an identity.  For Linklater, identity is not shaped by traumatic events, as is the case in so many films (mostly because it’s more dramatically interesting), but rather a gradual process of just being.  It’s light, and might still be one considered a “minor” work when compared to the relatively epic Boyhood or the deeply moving Before… series, but it’s also, perhaps, the quintessential Linklater film.  Golden tinged, rose tinted utopianism that might not reflect most people’s reality, or even his own for all we know, but it’s his ideal understanding of how things could have once been.  Everybody wants some, but not a lot, and that’s how it should be.  

 

-M

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One Response to “Everybody Wants Some!!”

  1. widnesian Says:

    I liked it okay too, and my version of what you wrote would be “It does what it says on the tin”. Mind you, I missed some of the incidental dialogue due to my missus singing along to virtually every song on the soundtrack, like you would on a night out with the world’s best jukebox. It was hilarious. She sang loads of songs I didn’t know and then came the Stiff Little Fingers tune. She shut up for that one, and then it was my turn. It was a good night in.


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