But not everybody seems to want this.
Richard Linklater, best known for depicting the passing of time and its effects on a boy in Boyhood has a very unusual 80s-style college movie to offer us. It is unusual, perhaps, because beholding this piece of work is lacking in head what it has in heart.
Providing a synopsis is difficult, because nothing really happens for most of the 100 minutes. Jake Bradley is a young man who moves to a Baseball house in 1980. Then he meets the other men who he will be living with. Then they go to a party. Then they have a hangover, then another party.
Maybe that is harsh, but the tale of six or twelve college sporty boys who like sports and competitiveness is seriously lacking. The plotlessness isn’t a joy ride like American Graffiti, but a confusing puzzle, which, whilst unique, isn’t as much fun to complete as it should be.
The film is a tad formulaic, alternating between sequences set at parties and sequences where the older ‘men’, the equally immature second and third year students educate the freshmen, and therefore, educate us on the issues that the others each have and how they overcome them. So many of their discussions wind up circling stategies and discussions of how to pick up and sleep with women.
There is a lot to enjoy, and that will depend on how comfortable you are watching a bunch of young men just comparing masochistic characteristics and never really being challenged about it. The discussions of masculinity and its meaning would be more interesting if there was context beyond the sports and partying which brings these characters together. Fantastic sequences such as discussions about the essential use of competitive and unlikable men for the team, and a typically philosophical chat about the ways in which corporate America uses and markets music as a way of controlling subversive young punctuate the film nicely, but don’t naturally fit as well as they should. Its not that the tone changes, but there is no one tone or attempt at a through-line theme to keep you hooked, so when these sequences arise, they feel more forced than they should.
There are also jokes. The film is at its best when it is completely deconstructing the fake masculine show-off so-called nature(s) of these men, but sadly, it spends too much time endorsing them. The jokes are only going to land if you’re willing to buy into this far from critical view of the world of idiocy and mysogony. I’ve never felt that the depiction of sexism is itself inherently sexist, but it seems to go unchecked througout the film. Most of ‘the moves’ that these gentlemen use seem to succeed, with only certain moments highlighting the failures in their plights serving supposed dramatic purpose.
Notice how I was supposed to tell you about the jokes there, but couldn’t cite them? Maybe that isn’t a problem. Despite the crude nature of most of these men, you can’t help but smile all the way through. It covers a year’s worth of college movie in just three days, and Linklater’s strengths as a director show here. Honesty and the slow lapsing of real-time are what make the film such a joy and make the story so frustratingly engaging. Much like life, these boys are just bored in the interluding moments between their passions.
There is a lot to find in Everybody Wants Some!!, but a fair few layers of reminiscence for the 1980s style storytelling are hindering matters, not helping. The honesty is hidden behind a formulaic approach which rarely actually fuses the criticism of masculinity and the acts of total chauvinism. When we get a terrifically cringe-inducing sequence at a punk gig, and the guys wonder why they’re so flexible on their identity, Linklater is having a great time and you feel invited to the party. When a game of table tennis gets intimidatingly competitive, and the boys seem to break the fourth wall to narrate and comment on the futility of compeition, you feel like you’ve invaded privacy.
As you can see, I’m having a really hard time deciding the extent to which I liked it. Despite its many issues and subject matter, it does feel unusually unique, and like something with such colourful and vivid sequences that fit like puzzle pieces. Its a nice puzzle when finished, but it takes too long to work out why each piece was designed as it was.