Sunday, April 24, 2016

Day 1609 - Everybody Wants Some!!

Here's the thing... Everybody Wants Some!! is probably one of the most plotless movies to come out in a long time.  It's good, but you won't figure that out for a while.  Richard Linklater (the writer/director) likes this type of film.  His first feature, Slacker, literally just followed different people around as they talked about their philosophies on life.  I hate it.  I think it's boring and pretentious.  But his Before... trilogy (starring Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke) follows two people as we see them on three single days, 9 years apart, and all they do is talk.  But they're brilliant films.  These are two intelligent people who fall in and out of love (and perhaps back again) while talking about life (the universe and everything).  Everybody Wants Some!! is set in 1980 and follows Jake (Blake Jenner), the new freshman pitcher.  He hangs out with other baseball players, and we see their attempts to hook up with the incoming college women.  There's some philosophical talk towards the end of the film, but otherwise that's the movie.

Not really a ringing endorsement, is it?  Let me try and explain why the movie is worth seeing.  Any time that you see a movie a second time you are able to plug in all the information that you have already ingested.  As a director or editor, you probably have to see that movie hundreds of times.  The idea of seeing your movie like you did for the very first time is long gone.  The first time, we, as viewers, watch Everybody Wants Some!! we're spending the first 30 or 40 minutes trying to figure out who all the characters are that are being thrown at us.  And because none of these people have any deep philosophical leanings, all we can do is watch what they do.  They're not dumb people, but they only care about two things - girls and baseball.  Through simple immersion, we begin to know and care about these kids.  One of the best things about the film is that it convinces us that we are actually watching something taking place in 1980. 

So all that immersion and all the building of character creates a film that is less about anything, and more about showing us three and a half days in the life of these guys.  And this is where Linklater (minorly) fails and (mostly) succeeds.  Because he's seen the movie so many times already, he knows these characters inside and out.  But we're seeing it for the first time.  We don't know these characters, yet.  We're waiting for something dramatic to happen.  We, as an audience, have been primed for that.  Instead, by the time we realize nothing is really going to happen, we know who every character is.  It's a real achievement, but because it takes as long as it does, the experience of the film is a little less than satisfying.  But, I have to figure that any additional viewings of the film is much more rewarding.  We would then know who all the players are, and we can enjoy the film as a two hour time capsule of an era gone by.

However, the other negative aspect of the film is that this is as testosterone-filled as any action movie out there.  There's one female character of any consequence and that's Zoey Deutch's Beverly.  She's smart, she's funny, and she steals every scene that she's in... in the last fifteen minutes of the film.  All the other women in the film are simply there as objects to be won.  Sure, they may be on equal footing with the guys, but we don't get to know any of them.

And while any of this might seem like I'm bad-mouthing the movie, I'm really not.  Like I said, the deft touch Linklater wielded to make you believe that you're watching a 1980 time capsule is impressive.  And all the ballplayers are truly unique individuals.  It took a lot of time and effort to make it seem as effortless as it does.  So it's really a lot of fun, if just a bit vacuous.


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