Everybody Wants Some!!
“It’s not about the ingredients. It’s about the way the ingredients make you feel.”
Those words, despite being spoken nonchalantly by a guy who’s just trying to get into some girl’s pants, perfectly describe the message at the heart of Richard Linklater’s Everybody Wants Some!!. The film elevates emotion and character depth to a point of importance far greater than that of conventional plot. Like most of Linklater’s work, the purpose isn’t just to tell the audience a simple story with a strict three-act structure; instead, it’s about capturing a moment, and making sense of all the feelings that come along with it. The film accomplishes exactly what it sets out to do, and the result is a wildly entertaining comedy which serves as a testament to the joyful experience of living in the moment.
Set in 1980 during the three days before classes begin, Everybody Wants Some!! follows college freshman Jake, the star pitcher of his high school baseball team, who arrives on campus with a scholarship and the hope of continuing his success on the school’s competitive team. Jake moves into the house reserved for the baseball team and meets his fellow players, who, in the following days, will become his close friends through a series of delightful incidents that perfectly reflect the period in which the film is set.
Expertly portraying the look and feel of the 80s is one of the film’s greatest strengths, although at times it can become a little indulgent. The carefully curated soundtrack – featuring everything from the titular Van Halen tune to Blondie – with some Pink Floyd and Queen classics thrown in between – establishes the film’s era and tone, and is supported by an endless stream of bushy mustaches and hilariously cheesy clothes. The entire progression is so seamlessly constructed to appear as a product of its specific time that constant feelings of nostalgia are all but inevitable, but what may come as a surprise is the fact that these emotions are not reserved solely for those who have lived through the experiences portrayed by the film.
Because the film relies so heavily on interaction and human nature, viewers of any age will find themselves experiencing a deep nostalgia for a time in which they may not have even lived. This is an amazing feat from Linklater, that he is able to construct a film so absorbed in an era while still being able to successfully convey themes and ideas which are universal and timeless. Humor comes from everyday occurrences, from pranks which have lived on far past the decade’s style, from jokes that could be told and laughed about to this day. Characters constantly compete with one another in an attempt to come out on top, to be the all-stars they were in high school, before they were surrounded by players who are just as good as they are – these fears and desires continue today, altering themselves only slightly based on the individual’s situation, but always remaining absolutely relevant. The film is, on the surface, an unabashed love letter to the 80s, but it is simultaneously a remarkable representation of life’s many bittersweet constants.
The film’s detractors may cite its pacing as a problem, with there being stretches of slowness or, more commonly, repetitiveness. There’s only so many times one can watch a group of guys get drunk and hit on girls before the mind begins to wander. However, complete boredom is all but impossible due to the film’s superbly detailed writing and its many rich, comedic moments. Thankfully, Linklater appears to know exactly when his audience may tire and, right when the film seems to be stuck in a lull, the very next scene delves deeper into what the film does best: providing humanity and intelligent insight, all while maintaining a level of entertainment which compels as it admires.
Everybody Wants Some!! is a film about real life. You won’t find any sudden, profound moments of intense monologuing, because such a thing rarely – if ever – occurs in reality. There’s endless conversation and characters doing everything they can to just have fun, because that’s how humans actually behave, with glaring flaws and hidden desires bubbling at the surface of every one of life’s many outtakes. Scenes flow from one to the next without you having any real idea of what to expect or of what may lie in store for the characters, just as time flows from one period to another without warning, hesitation, or plan – winter to spring, high school to college, joy to sadness, life to death. This, like life, is what makes the film interesting and unique. It’s not necessarily about what’s happening to you right now, or what fun the characters are about to have or are experiencing at this very moment. It’s about the way these experiences make you feel.
4 out of 5
Everybody Wants Some!! is now available on DVD and Blu-ray