Take a good look at your future, freshman.
Film has a funny relationship with time. It can make a day seem like an eternity, or make a whole childhood feel like it passes in a blink. The right film can take us back to an era we lived through and make us feel young again, or it can just as easily show us a time we never experienced and make us want to stay there.
But just as important as what a film achieves with time, it must also pay attention to what is happening in the time at-hand, and if times are changing, it needs to understand and respect that…or pay a heavy price.
This is the story of Jake (Blake Jenner), who begins the film by arriving at a small Texas college. He has a major – as most students do – but really and truly, his major is baseball. A quick glance at Jake’s living quarters would suggest a frat house. It’s not, but it’s the next closest thing; half of the college baseball team all under one roof. The other half lives next door.
The team is a kooky cross-section of lads. There’s the zen-loving bearded pitcher who spends his time between Pink Floyd albums and episodes of The Twilight Zone. There’s the ultra-competitive outfielder who can split soft-toss pitches in half with an axe. There’s the even more competitive loner of a pitcher who claims to be the next Nolan Ryan, and isn’t out to make any friends. Then there’s the philosophical infielder who the entire team looks up to; both for wisdom on the field, and prowess off.
With just days to go before the school year begins, the team is hard at work. They aren’t studying, mind you, nor doing academic prep of any sort. No, these strapping boys are hard at work going to as many bars, meeting as many women, and generally making as much mischief as they can. Doing so actually serves two purposes. The first is obvious – the quest for fun, and to do some l-i-v-i-n while they are young. The second though is a bit more subtle; with every game of ping-pong and every prank pulled, the teammates establish both a hierarchy and camaraderie they will carry with them on the field.
While Jake and his newfound friends spend much of the movie hounding every cute girl in a skirt that drifts into their orbit, it eventually comes back to one person for Jake – that’s Beverly (Zoey Deutch). Jake and Beverly meet on move-in day as she and her roommates are rebuking Finnegan (the philosophical infielder played by Glen Powell). While turning him down, she admits an interest in “the quiet guy in the backseat”, leaving Jake unable to get her out of his mind.
Can our fresh-faced pitcher hit the strike zone when it matters? Or is he headed for an early shower?
If you squint just-so, you can almost imagine that Jake is what became of Mitch Kramer four years later. Mitch, you may recall was the little-leaguer at the centre of DAZED AND CONFUSED. After one wild night at the end of the eighth grade, Mitch survived a hazing, an all-nighter, and an older girl. As he stumbles back into his parents’ house at the end of the film, we get the feeling that the next four years might not be so bad for young Mitchell.
Add a few pounds of muscle to his frame, and trim a few inches of hair and it’s not hard to imagine that Mitch changed his name to Jake and went off to college to continue his baseball playing days.
Such thoughts prime the audience to get the most from this newest Richard Linklater film. It doesn’t serve up nostalgia so much as it sets out an all-you-can-eat buffet and dares you to make just two trips. The movie is out to remind us of a moment when we didn’t have many cares, and were surrounded by people who had just as few (if not less). It plays a soundtrack of all-killer-no-filler songs from yesteryear and stands back with a smug grin knowing how much the audience is longing to go back to the era in-question even if they didn’t live through it.
The film aims to be an all-time “hangin’ out movie”; one that celebrates the last call of the endless summers we all remember so fondly. If this film had arrived even five years ago, that might well be how we described it – as the next great summer movie. But the world is slowly changing, and the world we live in doesn’t benefit a movie like this for one big reason.
When the dust settles on EVERYBODY WANTS SOME, we are left with the glaring flaw in the film. We have just spent nearly two wild hours wrapped in the tunes, tokes, and tomfoolery of the early 80’s but have done it surrounded almost exclusively by dudes. We’ve watched them drink, watched them dope, watched them dick-around, and it all just seems like a glimpse into the past of the men who make up just about any board room in any office you’ll find. While ordinarily I have no problem bearing witness to guys honing their talents of “fuckwithery”, the movie nevertheless reminds you why you hate being near a bar on UFC night. It’s no accident that the film finds a new gear when Jake’s attention fully turns to Beverly. Her very presence gives us a break from all of the posturing and posing, not to mention bringing some much-needed oxygen (and estrogen) into the proceedings.
The thing is, while they might not be at the level of idiocy of their male counterparts, it’s not like college-aged girls are saints either. What might this film have been if we’d spent a little bit more time with the theatre nerds?
That we don’t know is a real pity, since it holds this spiritual sequel back from becoming something really special. The same way that the end of high school is something most of us never forget, so too is the beginning of college. Suddenly we are drowning in freedom; treated like grown-ups but in no-way interested in acting like them. We gather as big fishes from hundreds of small ponds and try to find our way in the new current. Sure getting wasted and getting laid are high up the list of priorities, but so is making connections and making yourself at-home.
It’s hard to shake the feeling that this is a good movie that could have been a great movie. The guys of EVERYBODY WANTS SOME are here for a good time, if not a long time. Pity they couldn’t find more time to put in some actual quality time.
Matineescore: ★ ★ ★ out of ★ ★ ★ ★
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