The good news is that Richard Linklater‘s Everybody Wants Some! is cool, smart, fresh, atypical. It’s a period campus ramble-on, set in the climes of Texas State University in 1980, and more particularly a situational thing that feels enjoyably realistic and familiar in at least a couple of hundred different ways.
The bad news is that it’s mostly about a bunch of baseball-star jocks sharing a fraternity house, and athletes, I feel, are always a drag to hang with because they’re mostly a bunch of pea-brains — hormonal, relentlessly competitive, single-minded, somewhat conservative, egoistic, and lacking in curiosity. I’m sorry but I’ve been around the track a couple of hundred times and that’s my opinion.
Then again Everybody Wants Some! is a refreshingly unusual jocks-on-a-college-campus comedy, which is to say something quieter and more oblique and introspective and curious about what makes this or that guy tick. It spends a whole lotta time answering that last line of inquiry.
Yes, it’s frequently amusing but I’m not even sure if it’s fair to use the word “comedy.” It dispenses a steady torrent of little laugh sliders that make you chortle or grin or guffaw, but it never strains to be “funny.” Either you’re paying attention and enjoying the observational servings or you’re not.
Yes, it’s full of jock attitudes and hormonal longings and sex when it happens and beer and bong hits and swinging baseball bats and swinging dicks, but Everybody Wants Some! is not what your typical megaplex popcorn-muncher is looking for. It’s way, way too subtle for that guy or gal, and it will almost certainly be gone from theatres in the blink of a weekend or two, but this will happen for the noblest and coolest of reasons on Linklater’s part.
The truth? Everybody Wants Some! is a little too much of a laid-back, easy-time mood trip for its own good. It acquaints you with several characters and it certainly ends well, but it doesn’t tell a “story” of any kind. This is a movie about a squad of college baseball players in which no one starts pitching and whacking balls until the 75-minute mark. It’s a film in which the lead guy (Blake Jenner) decides he likes this clever, cute acting-major girl (Zoey Deutch) within the first 10 or 12 minutes, but he doesn’t make any kind of move for about an hour and doesn’t connect with her for 10 or 12 minutes after that, and when they finally go out nothing anxious or awkwardly hormonal or hurtful happens. They just click and mesh and fall for each other. Easy.
Everybody might want some, but nobody’s in a hurry to score any, Linklater included. He’s in full command here — this is such a Linklater film — but he doesn’t command anyone to pursue anything wth any real hunger or urgency. He’s into taking his time and easing into the groove of the moment.
Again — this is an agreeably low-key take on a very familiar milieu, and while it delivers an abundant supply of typical-young-guy adventures it’s 175 if not 200 miles away from Animal House or There’s Something About Mary or any other film you can think of in this vein, which is why I respected it. Did I laugh a lot? No, largely because jocks are a pain in the ass. I’ve always felt vaguely irritated by jocks, and I was saying to myself, knowing this is basically a story of a portion of Linklater’s own 35-year-old college experience, “This is who Linklater was hanging with when he was 19 or 20? Wow, he’s come a long way.” Then again we’re led to presume he’s the Jenner character — a cool, perceptive, deep-well sort .
I was frowning as much as smiling through this thing. I was muttering “you pushy, tedious fuck” as much I was laughing at the wit and the frolic and the fastballs. But that’s what happens when you hang with jocks.
I really love that Linklater couldn’t care less about satisfying the submentals who want a certain kind of hormonal college sex romp — that takes character and balls. And I love that Everybody Wants Some! takes its time and plays its cards in a nicely unhurried way. But it lasts 117 minutes, dude. It probably could have achieved the same result within 95 or 100.