Breezy dis­patch from the dark ages

The right-on di­rec­tor has made some­thing closer to ‘An­i­mal House’ than any­thing in his own ad­mirable oeu­vre , writes

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - FILM REVIEWS -

EV­ERY­BODY WANTS SOME!! Di­rected by Richard Lin­klater. Star­ring Blake Jen­ner, Glen Pow­ell, Will Brit­tain, Zoey Deutch, Ryan Guz­man, Tyler Hoech­lin , J Quin­ton John­son , Wy­att Rus­sell, Austin Ame­lio, Tem­ple Baker, Tan­ner Kalina. 15A cert, lim­ited re­lease, 116 min Your cur­rent critic went to univer­sity just one year af­ter the pro­tag­o­nist of Richard Lin­klater’s trou­ble­some “spir­i­tual se­quel” to Dazed and Con­fused. Yet al­most noth­ing in the film – bar, maybe, a hugely un­ex­pected snatch of Al­ter­na­tive Ul­ster – causes the nos­tal­gia glands to flood. The Univer­sity of Austin (here fic­tion­alised) sat on a dif­fer­ent planet to the con­tem­po­ra­ne­ous Univer­sity of Dublin. Th­ese guys had cars. Their res­i­den­tial com­mu­ni­ties seemed to oc­cupy en­tire blocks. Par­ties took on the qual­ity of theme parks. This fra­ter­nity and soror­ity busi­ness re­mains as strange to us as the no­tion of Lacrosse as a com­pet­i­tive sport.

There was more to it than dis­tinc­tions in aca­demic eti­quette. The United States it­self was a great deal more for­eign in 1980 than it seems now. We thought it looked like the fu­ture.

In one re­spect, view­ing from our fem­i­nist Red Wedge in Euro­pean academia, the world of Ev­ery­body Wants Some!! (don’t for­get the two ex­cla­ma­tion points) would, how­ever, have seemed like a dis­patch from the dark ages. The peren­ni­ally ami­able and fault­lessly right-on Lin­klater has made a film that seems closer to An­i­mal House than any­thing in his own ad­mirable oeu­vre. The other­wise harm­less char­ac­ters, mostly base­ball play­ers, ap­proach the ro­man­tic life as they might ap­proach big-game hunt­ing. Tech­niques are de­vised for swin­dling women into bed. There’s a preda­tory vibe to their nightly per­am­bu­la­tions. Women aren’t in­vited to say much and, when they even­tu­ally do speak, they merely parry re­sponses from the mighty “pick-up artists”. Did I men­tion the saucy mud wrestling?

View Ev­ery­body Wants Some!! with a hand over one eye and you might per­suade your­self that the dreamy reverie has no such wor­ri­some un­der­cur­rents. Amer­i­can Graf­fiti seems like a bit­ter evis­cer­a­tion of its cho­sen era when set be­side the cur­rent film. Blake Jen­ner plays Jake, a base­ball pitcher killing a week­end be­fore

Austin Ame­lio, Tan­ner Kalina, For­rest Vickery, Tyler Hoech­lin and Ryan Guz­man in Ev­ery­body Wants Some!!

start­ing univer­sity in Texas. The subur­ban house in which he is bil­leted is packed with sim­i­larly breezy jocks. Wil­loughby (Wy­att Rus­sell) speaks stoned wis­dom dur­ing the qui­eter mo­ments of Pink Floyd’s Med­dle. Finn (Glen Pow­ell) is one of those con­fi­dent guys who seems to have ab­sorbed all the adult world’s rules decades be­fore the rest of us have even made a tooth­mark on them. Dale (J Quin­ton John­son), an­other good-na­tured sup­port­ing player, is the house’s only black res­i­dent, but, while the gang make great fun of the red­necks, this fact is never re­marked upon.

In­deed, Lin­klater has imag­ined a world in which – that lone prej­u­dice against coun­try boys noted – no racial, cul­tural or so­cial ten­sions ex­ist. Finn, Jake and the gang seem equally ap­pre­cia­tive of disco, punk, pro­gres­sive rock and coun­try mu­sic. When the jocks at­tend a party hosted by the theatre crowd, nei­ther group seems much taken aback by the other.

Keep­ing that hand over one eye, the viewer might rea­son­ably think this imag­i­nary world an agree­able place to in­habit for an hour or two. The mind be­hind Boy­hood and the Be­fore . . . films lets the di­a­logue un­furl in easy arabesques knot­ted around gen­tly dis­arm­ing one-lin­ers. Shane F Kelly, Lin­klater’s reg­u­lar cin­e­matog­ra­pher, shoots the film in bleached-out shades that form cam­ou­flage round the main char­ac­ters’ equally bleached-out jeans. The ac­tors are ex­cel­lent. We are all al­lowed to ide­alise our own youth and Lin­klater does it with gusto. But the un­chal­lenged cel­e­bra­tion – “tolerance” is too kind a word – of preda­tory male sex­u­al­ity ul­ti­mately proves hard to ig­nore. If the film-maker were not known to be such a de­cent, lib­eral fel­low would Ev­ery­body Wants Some!! be get­ting such an easy ride from US crit­ics? I think not.

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