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
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.