Linklater elevates ‘Everybody Wants Some’ romp


In a month, I’ll be saying goodbye to college, so it’s only fitting that my final review at The Varsity News be a classic ’80s throwback college movie set on capturing the hallowed ground of American higher education through partying and sex jokes.

“Everybody Wants Some!!” strives to seize those glorious first few days of college and its seemingly endless possibilities.

And it’s only fitting that this movie be written and directed by Richard Linklater, whose snub at the 2015 Oscars cost me an undisclosed amount of cash. 

Jake (Blake Jenner) serves as the audience’s surrogate to the foreign world of the fictional Southeast Texas University in 1980.

As an incoming freshman baseball player, Jake moves into the “baseball house” on the Thursday before classes start.

Due to an overflow of students in the dorms, the baseball program has been allotted two off-campus houses where the players reside. (Much of this is based on Linklater’s own playing days at Sam Houston State.)

Their coach gives the boys only two rules: No drinking and no girls allowed upstairs. Naturally, these are broken within minutes of screen time.

When summarized on paper, “Everybody Wants Some!!” admittedly sounds like a terrible, straight-to-DVD American Pie spinoff. In rare instances, it feels just reminiscent of such, but Linklater salvages it with the care and respect he gives this tried and overplayed subject matter.

A little less than halfway through the film, I began questioning how I would feel about this movie with someone other than Linklater, one of my favorite filmmakers, at the helm.

In that moment, I concluded that I would view “Everybody Wants Some!!” as a slightly above average sex-romp.  Still, a mood and familiarity that is difficult to pinpoint latches on to you, as a viewer, over the course of this film.

Unlike those spinoffs, “Everybody” refuses to hit the viewer over the head with sex joke after sex joke, but wants you instead to enjoy yourself and bond with these characters. When raunchy jokes do come around, we laugh with the guys, rather than at the joke; our enjoyment is rooted in the guys’ enjoyment of the gag.

And then, slowly, with Linklater’s patented lack of urgency, the movie washes over and absorbs you with its charm.

Yes, we’ve seen college-aged, hormone-infused buffoons on screen countlessly, but Linklater treats the material with respect and genuine reverence without ever approaching sentimentality. These baseball players are given room to breathe and reside in the same space as the audience.

Within 20 minutes or so, these guys become your pals, and you want nothing more than to simply hang out with them and have a good time.

 In Linklater’s attention to detail and lack of emphasis on expositional dialogue, the film triumphs with its near-flawless portrayal of the young adult male’s psyche within this baseball team.

Obviously, the idea of young men being horny idiots who roughhouse with their boys is nothing new, but the small idiosyncrasies push past that.

The team has a constant need for any form of competitive stimulation. Whether it’s Ping-Pong, bloody knuckles or merely slicing a baseball open with an axe, Jake and his teammates can’t sit still without engaging in something that resembles sport.

The way the boys stretch and engorge the truth is endearing, as each character is aware that 99 percent of what his teammate is saying is complete nonsense, but is still deemed as fact. They butt heads, but any conflict is resolved within minutes.

They talk about girls and hooking up endlessly, but, when given a chance, are almost always lured back to the comfort of goofing off with the boys.

These are just “guys being dudes” in the grandest, most heartfelt sense.

Linklater uses the genre to his advantage and pokes fun at the idea of the “freshman identity crisis” as the boys go from disco club to country bar to punk show to theatre party within a matter of hours.

In between, upperclassman Dale (J. Quinton Johnson) gives freshman Beuter (Will Brittain) a speech on the uselessness of trying to find oneself. Just focus on the task at hand (in this case baseball), and have a good time.

While not always overt, Linklater’s hand is always present. It is concise and confident of itself, while still allowing the movie to feel free and wide open.

The flashiest, albeit understated, piece of filmmaking on display is the dual-screen phone conversation between Jake and Beverly (Zoey Deutch). With a split screen showing each end of the phone call, the camera cuts haphazardly between close-ups and medium shots.

The sides of the screen are unsynchronized ever so slightly, creating a disjointedness between Jake and Beverly that perfectly captures the raw, hesitant awkwardness that comes with talking to a potential love interest on the phone for the first time.

In nuances like this, Linklater proves himself again as a master at world building. This is due, in large part, to his sense of the concept of time. These characters, their house, those bars, those parties all feel alive and breathing as if Linklater is merely capturing them.

It feels documentarian at times, as if you, the viewer, could’ve been there, filming the scene. This sort of sensation can only stem from the assertive detail in the atmosphere of the film.

Littered with a plethora of his cinematic staples including pinball machines and weed-induced monologues on the philosophical musings of life, “Everybody Wants Some!!” becomes Linklater’s poignant, earnest love letter to the first weekend of college life and its accompanying blend of innocence and freedom.

If anyone else had made this movie, I’d be heralding him/her as a subtly effective up-and-coming filmmaker. With the list of experimental work in his filmography (“Slacker,” “Boyhood,” the “Before…” trilogy), his more traditional ventures are taken for granted and become afterthoughts.

“Everybody” falls into the latter distinction.

This movie, like college itself, becomes a picture, a fleeting moment, that feels insignificant at the time, only to linger with you as leave the theatre and head out into the real world.