Friday, April 22, 2016

EVERYBODY WANTS SOME!!: The Film Babble Blog Review

Now playing at a multiplex or indie art house near you:

(Dir. Richard Linklater, 2016)

Richard Linklater’s 18th film EVERYBODY WANTS SOME!!, which takes its name from a Van Halen song, is billed as a “spiritual sequel to DAZED AND CONFUSED.”

This means that while it involves none of the same characters it’s an Austin, Texas-set period piece that takes place several years after DAZED’s last day of high school ’76 scenario with a similar amount of hard partying, soul searching, and a wall-to-wall soundtrack of radio hits from a bygone era.

It’s 1980, and to the beat of The Knack’s “My Sharona,” we meet our protagonist (and Linklater surrogate) the affable feather-haired Jake (Blake Jenner) as he drives onto campus to start his freshman year at the fictitious Southeast Texas University. Jake, a pitcher on a baseball scholarship, arrives only with a suitcase and a milk crate of records (Devo’s 1977 debut “Are We Not Men” is the most visible album).

Jake moves into one of the two baseball houses on campus and meets his fellow players/roommates – including the pornstached McReynolds (Tyler Hoechlin), the slick-talking Finn (Glen Powell), the much ridiculed redneck Billy Autry (Will Brittain), the cocky constantly primping Roper (Ryan Guzman), the bearded spiritual stoner Willoughby (Wyatt Russell), the obnoxious outcast Niles (Juston Street), and the team’s token black guy, Dale (J. Quinton Johnson).

Jake soon notes that in his new living situation, where his teammates are always playing games whether it be foosball, ping pong, darts, poker or bloody knuckles (a stupid game in which two people punch each other’s knuckles until one of them gives up) that everything is a competition – “even hits from bongs.” Getting laid, always the main motivation in movies like this, is another messy game getting played here, of course.

The film is set entirely in the three days before classes begin – a ticker pops up here and there to tell us how much time is left – with little actual plot to speak of. In between the baseball bros’ drinking at various venues – including their regular watering hole “The Fox,” a country dance joint, and a punk club – Jake meets a smart, pretty performing arts major named Beverly (Zoey Deutch), who invites him to a costume party with her theater geek friends that Jake worries whether he should let his rowdy crew in on.

The crude yet warm-spirited EVERYBODY WANTS SOME has a lot of solid character driven laughs, but as well acted as these personalities are, I’m not sure that there is a Matthew McConaughey-style breakthrough role happening here in this no name cast.

Russell, who’s the son of Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn, has a witty charisma about him, but he gets walked out of the game before his Willoughby even gets a chance to be the film’s Wooderson.

With its washed out look via the cinematography of Shane F. Kelly (Linklater’s DP on A SCANNER DARKLY and BOYHOOD) , EVERYBODY WANTS SOME can sure look and feel like a film that was shot in the early ‘80s, a lot more than DAZED looked like a film that was shot in the ‘70s. The attention to detail, one of Linklater’s greatest strengths, really perpetuates the illusion that we’re taken the wayback machine to another time.

The well chosen soundtrack, which features such classics as “Rapper’s Delight” by the Sugarhill Gang (an early sing-a-long, or rap-a-long car ride scene to this song is a highlight), Robin Scott’s “Pop Musik,” Queen’s “Another One Bites the Dust,” Devo’s “Whip It,” and various Cars and Cheap Trick tracks, also helps achieve that effect.

I doubt that this film will become the coming-of-age cult classic that DAZED has become in the decades since its release in 1993, but it’s a fine, funny follow-up to that film and Linklater’s brilliant, much more ambitious BOYHOOD. It begins much like BOYHOOD ended, with a young man on his own for the first time in his life starting a new life at college. It’s apparent that the overwhelming feeling of having your life ahead of you, with an open mind to new people and experiences, is something that has never left the 55-year old Linklater.

To paraphrase one of the writer/director’s most enduring characters, the aforementioned McConaughey character of Wooderson, Linklater gets older, but these universal themes stay the same age.

More later...

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