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Review: Everybody Wants Some!! 

Eric here, with unhappy thoughts on the new Richard Linklater film. Linklater’s Everybody Wants Some!!  promises a two-exclamation-point experience, but it unfortunately delivers as more of an ellipsis, in the true Greek meaning of “falling short”.

Now would be the moment in a review where one encapsulates the plot, but hands up on that, because Everybody is plot-free (self-consciously so).  Let’s say it’s structured around a freshman (Blake Jenner) arriving at college three days before classes start in short-shorts (happy 1980!). We follow him through those three days with his baseball-team-cum-frat-brothers in the pursuit of the game and the girls... 

Ask almost any white heterosexual movie-loving male between the ages of 35 and 50 to list their favorite three directors, Richard Linklater will inevitably appear on that list. This seems due largely to his 1993 cult smash Dazed and Confused.  Or it could, if one were cynical, be due in part because most of Linklater’s films feature a white heterosexual male protoganist in some state of arrested development.  It’s like Linklater’s boys have been waiting for his permission that they can finally grow up, and in last year’s Boyhood, he finally did just that, to the tune of film critic awards nationwide.  Linklater himself grew up, too: Boyhood was a fully mature film, where the trajectory of the young lead was merely a set-up for the growth of the Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette characters.  Boyhood traded on the Eric Rohmer-like pacing and grace notes of Linklater’s finest films to date (the Before series with Hawke and Julie Delpy) and raised the stakes…he was finally doing some real probing and questioning about how we can all miss out on the most beautiful things in life because we’re not paying attention.

One could argue that this is once again the theme of Everybody Wants Some!!, if there is one. At one moment a teacher writes “Frontiers are where you find them” on a blackboard, to which our protagonist responds with a nap.  But it’s truly depressing to watch Linklater go from the sophistication and control of Boyhood to the laconic and flat work he does in this new movie. Nothing in Everybody would ever make you think this movie was made by a major filmmaker:  not one interesting shot composition, not one keen insight, not a basic sense of pacing or style or finesse.  It’s like Porky’s without the stupid puerile joy. But at least Glen Powell (Scream Queens) playing the alpha dog at the baseball house, once again shows his flair for cocky comedy. If only the movie gave him more to do.

Nothing happens in Everybody Wants Some!!.  That’s not a problem if a film is giving you new insights into human behavior or terrific dialogue  But there’s nothing in Everybody that we all haven’t seen hundreds of times before (and even often from Linklater himself).  Scenes are keyed up as if it’s the most hilarious thing in the world just to watch someone smoke weed.  And there’s an unbelievably awful set piece in the movie where Jenner takes his baseball friends to a “party full of performing arts people” that is so phony and disingenuous you’ll wonder if Linklater had ever met someone in college who majored in theater.

The film contains a great soundtrack for people who love to exclaim about movies “oh my god, that movie has such a great soundtrack!”  But for a film with two exclamation points, one wants not just some but more; was anyone's college experience this dull? 

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Reader Comments (13)

"Not one interesting shot composition."

As much as I adore the Sunset trilogy and Boyhood, I'd argue this has ALWAYS been a problem for Linklater. I think Nathaniel has made this point before too but Linklater is probably the only critically acclaimed/cinephile approved filmmaker who ISN'T a great visual artist.

April 3, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterSteph Bello

Steph Bello: The only one who is so regularly acclaimed. Kevin Smith kind of has that same issue, but he's not regularly acclaimed.

April 3, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

To be fair, some of the most acclaimed and greatest filmmakers are not what one would call distinctive visual artists (Hawks is a cliched example, but a good one), so this isn't necessarily such a bad thing. Linklater's aesthetic style, at least in his live action work, is unassuming and usually invisible, as he lets the script and actors do the talking. I would argue this perfectly suits films as naturalistic as the "Before" movies as well as "Boyhood." On the other hand, his use of long takes is a notable visual cornerstone of his work, and while they're never elaborate they certainly constitute a style of sorts. Haven't seen "Everybody Wants Some!!" yet so I don't know how this one fits.

April 3, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan

Either you're a fan of an established auteur's work or you're not. Clearly, you're not a fan of Linklater's work - that comes across in the third paragraph when you disparage his fanbase. It's okay that you're not a fan - everyone has directors they don't respond to - but it also means that I can't trust your pan of this movie, and I wish that someone who liked his work could have reviewed his latest film for my favorite movie website. Linklater is a beloved director and Everybody Wants Some!! is getting serious raves from most prominent critics.

By the way, Woody Allen isn't a great visual artist either, apart from Manhattan.

April 3, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne

Suzanne: Slight exaggeration on Woody Allen. I'd also count Zelig and The Purple Rose of Cairo as regularly visually inspired. As for Linklater? I've been waiting for him to genuinely sell out for awhile now. Why? 1. This isn't someone as odd as Jodorowsky or visually iconic as Wes Anderson we're talking about. It's Richard "released a high quality philosophy lecture" Linklater and 2. Because the first time it happened, we got the one two punch that was School of Rock and Before Sunset.

April 3, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

Aw, I rather liked it...and I'm an Asian American woman. But it only works if you see this as a transitional stage of life, which I think is the prevailing theme of Linklater's best work.

April 3, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterlylee

I liked it more than Eric, but, I was disappointed as well I'm about the same age as Linklater so this and DAZED parallel the years I was in High School and College. Linklater is one of my favorite current filmmakers. This time, Linklater's laid back style is soooo laid back that long stretches just seem to meander. And, what was up with all the butt shots? I don't mind so much myself, but, it seemed like the work of a much less accomplished and established director.

P.S. As an aside, I found it amusing that a character had a VCR in a college in 1980. Even among the general public, VCR's were owned by less than 3% of the population (I looked it up). Like I noted, I was in college at the time - NOBODY had a VCR on campus. Heck, there weren't even many color TVs at the time!

April 4, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJoeS

Volvagia - It's really an exaggeration where Linklater is concerned, too, though, given he made Waking Life and A Scanner Darkly, which mainstreamed the rotoscoping technique.

April 4, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne

OH NO!! Ugh I was worried about this.

April 7, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterCourtney

Nailed it. EWS starts off promisingly but never goes anywhere. And that's a problem for the reasons so stated. I was in college during this period, and nothing except the haircuts rang true. The cast is very likeable, but what they're given to do bears only passing resemblance to actual human behavior. And no young straight male character is going to be so preoccupied with how good his ass looks in pants.

Bottom line: thinks it's funny and cute...but no.

April 7, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

hey buddy,
so awesome sounds good thanks a lot ! keep updating information i will be glad to see them

June 16, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterAliza fox



October 13, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterAli

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