Directed by Richard Linklater (2016)
by Honor Devi Thapa
Richard Linklater’s most recent film, Everybody Wants Some!!, is about a house full of rowdy college baseball players who are looking for a good time. If you’re more of a Criterion connoisseur, this might not be the movie for you, as the target audience consists of:
A. Guys in college.
B. People who wish they were guys in college.
So for those who yearn for hazy days of keg stands, jungle juice, and sloppy drunken sex, crack open a cold one, ‘cause this movie is for you.
When I watched Everybody Wants Some, I was reminded of the guy I dated during my freshman and sophomore year. He was older and lived in what was ostensibly the typical college apartment. The floors were perpetually sticky. The sink was consistently overflowing with mold, shot glasses, and red solo cups. Parties on Friday and Saturday nights ended around 4am with a group of drunks screaming 90s alternative songs (remember “My Own Worst Enemy?”) while a sad drunk girl cried in a corner before/after a romantic bout of drunken lovemaking. The next day would be spent eating buffalo wings and watching football for about six hours. Living the dream, right? Yet, strangely enough, I don’t miss college. If I did, I could go to a frat party, or I could just watch Everybody Wants Some!!.
The year is 1980. The mood is light, the music is fun, and the shorts are short. The movie opens with the song “My Sharona,” just so everyone in the audience can quickly ascertain that this is, in fact, the 80s. The plot follows a regular dude named Jake and his quick acceptance in the fun, lackadaisical college baseball team clique, nary a scratch from the light hazing rituals.
The movie looks good. Almost too good, in fact, to be set in the 80s. Despite the mustaches, the film itself looks pretty modern (and for a period piece, that’s not a good thing). In contrast, when rewatching Linklater’s Dazed and Confused, the wave of nostalgia is immediate - not only because it’s set in the 1970s, but also because it was filmed in the early 90s. Technology has made many advancements since then, and the differences in cinematography are easy to spot. But modern movies that take place in decades past almost look too polished to be convincing. Perhaps they could use a more nostalgic lens, literally and figuratively.
Unfortunately, for a movie purported as the “spiritual sequel” to Dazed and Confused, it lacks the visual spontaneity and originality of its predecessor. Initially, it seems unclear why Linklater would try to recreate a movie deemed one of the “best teen films ever made,” according to the Criterion Collection. A quick look through Linklater’s filmography, however, shows that he is very interested in the passage of time. His penultimate movie, Boyhood, was filmed over the course of 12 years to encapsulate the journey of adolescence. Before Sunrise, Before Sunset, and Before Midnight were all filmed (and take place) nine years apart from each other.
With this in mind, it seems natural that Linklater would want to make such a sequel, in an attempt to conjure the same comedic atmosphere. But in this case, the sequel simply does not measure up. Everything about this movie seems a little desperate, starting with the two exclamation points in the title. The characters are somewhat engaging, but pretty generic and bland overall. We’ve seen them at real college parties, but, like the names of their female conquests, they are quickly forgotten. Sure, this might be intentional. The kids in Dazed and Confused are stereotypes and caricatures, too, but done so well that we want more screen time for every bit character.
The actors in Everybody Wants Some are talented, and they certainly seem to be having a good time, but the jokes feel predictable and contrived. Was Linklater banking on the audience becoming intoxicated with the characters on screen? Because a “Myth of Sisyphus” reference in the context of a college application essay does not count as “deep” unless you’ve got a bong nearby.
Fortunately, there are some quality performances that make the film enjoyable without the aid of alcohol or illicit drugs. Instead of a delightfully creepy Matthew McConaughey preying on high school girls, Everybody Wants Some has Glen Powell, whose character uses quasi philosophical banter to charm women at parties. His character is believable, at least in his earnest attempts to get laid by any means possible.
However, a belly shirt baring, short-short wearing Tyler Hoechlin steals the show. With his 80s truck driver masculinity, professional baseball player build, and an enviable mustache, Hoechlin’s character, McReynolds, carries himself with confidence - the kind of confidence that makes women scream and men scratch their head in awe. After slicing a flying baseball in half with an axe in lieu of a bat, McReynolds casually boasts that every day is the new best day of his life. And as the audience, we believe it. His performance alone makes the film worth watching.
So for those looking to re-live their glory days, do yourself a favor. Buy a six pack, invite some friends over, roll a joint, and let the good times roll.
And to the gentlemen who used to live in Apt 612: Watch this movie. Enjoy it. And may your floors always be sticky.