Starring: Blake Jenner, Tyler Hoechlin, Glen Powell
In 1980 Texas, college Freshman Jake (Jenner) was the top baseball player in his school and arrives at the house he will share with his fellow teammates, a combination of freshman and more senior students. With just the three days to go until their first lesson, Jake and his fellow housemates embark on three days of drinking, dancing, woman chasing and baseball playing.
Throughout his career Richard Lanklater has certainly proved that he can handle various genres, and he has unquestionably established himself well enough now that he can get the funding to make films for himself. Well, this apparently ‘spiritual sequel’ to Dazed & Confused´ is very much a film Linklater made for himself, and thought that in isolation may not be a bad thing, the levels of ill-discipline and self-indulgence are sometimes too high and make the film itself very hard to get into.
Everybody Wants Some will inevitably get high praise across the board as Linklater has established himself as one of the those directors that gets universal praise for every film he makes even if it is not actually deserved (the universal praise for the overrated gimmicks and contrivances of Boyhood a case in point). Everybody Wants Some is by no means a bad film and is an entertaining enough watch, and admittedly it and (some of) its characters simultaneously grew on me as the film went along, but crucially I never cared about them and quickly forgot about them as soon as the film was over.
One of my main criticisms of Boyhood was that at so many points the main character was always the ‘kooky one’ that was a bit different, which should have been a good thing, but it was depicted in a really synthetic and forced way. Well, the same problem can be said about our protagonist of Jake; his character is annoyingly clichéd and feels like the annoying perfect kid that we all knew at school, however every single perfect characteristic of his personality feels forced, making it impossible to care about him. Blake Jenner does an adequate job and portrays Jake’s wide-eyed naivety well, but as the narrative develops his character becomes increasingly annoying and impossible to relate to, which is not Jenner’s fault, but solely the fault of Linklater.
The rest of the characters all pretty much are indistinguishable from one another, with a few exceptions. They are all misogynists with one-track minds, and though some of their quirks (especially their uber-competiveness with everything) is funny as it feels the film and us the audience are laughing at them, but generally the film forgives their annoying characteristics and personalities and shares their narrow ideologies, which is only a bad thing. I however found it impossible to be anywhere near as forgiving and found the characters just reminded me of the kind of people I deeply disliked when at university. So therefore spending two hours in their company was often just as annoying. Though, as said before, some did start to grow on me once the boring scenes of dancing or singing had finished.
The two characters that did stand out are Temple Baker’s Plummer and Wyatt Russell’s Willoughby; they are labelled as ‘weird’ from the off, but at least their characters actually are more interesting than most of the two dimensional jocks, and they also get some of the funniest and also the few profound lines of the film (though of course profound is not really an appropriate word for this film). These moments hint at how good Everybody Wants Some could have been if Linklater removed his head from his own backside.
However by far the most memorable character is Glen Powell’s Finnegan; he was adequate but rather forgettable in the overall very forgettable Expendables 3 (in fact I didn’t even realise it was him), but here he defines charisma in what is a performance that often simply saves the film. His actual character has all the characteristics of a particularly annoying and unlikeable jock, and the dialogue he has is not exactly great either, but yet Powell brings depth and likeability to his character that shouldn’t happen, and if he is not in a scene the film immediately suffers for it.
There is no getting away from the fact that Everybody Wants Some is pure self-indulgence from start to finish, and the viewer does often feel like an unwelcomed guest at Richard Linklater’s little 80s tribute party. However Linklater’s obvious passion (though a passion it at times feels that he doesn’t want to share) means that we do get a great use of music of the era, which also serves to be one of the film’s saving graces. Most of us of course were not jocks at an American university (sorry, college) in 1980, but it does feel that Linklater gets the use of music to depict this time in history spot-on. However, the fact is that every year for many decades there are this kind of misogynistic, arrogant and narrow minded idiots that attend university, and no great soundtrack can disguise a bad script and annoying characters. Maybe Linklater wishes he was one of these characters when he went to University, which would explain the self-indulgent nature of the film that seems to route for the character’s behaviour and share their ideologies, but for the rest of us it is all a little alienating.
People will probably praise Everybody Wants Some because it is directed by Richard Linklater, but those with an independent mind will see this film for what it truly is; a total vanity project of self-indulgence and ill-discipline. There are some funny moments and a few redeeming features (mainly Glen Powell’s performance), but otherwise this is a hollow and forgettable film.