Film review: EVERYBODY WANTS SOME, from ‘Built For Speed’
Richard Linklater’s 1993 film Dazed and Confused was one of the 90’s best movies. Using the final day of high school in the American bicentennial year of 1976 as a platform for exploring 70’s popular culture, politics, teen rituals and the looming threat of adult responsibility, Dazed and Confused was a funny and engrossing American Graffiti for Gen-Xers. The film also awakened audiences to the talents of a remarkable collection of young actors such as Ben Affleck and Matthew McConaughey who went on to become superstars. Linklater’s latest film Everybody Wants Some was touted as a continuation of the spirit of Dazed and Confused, so expectations were very high; unfortunately, this film is a major disappointment.
Set in 1980 Everybody Wants Some, like Dazed and Confused, looks at a group of young sports stars heading into an uncertain future. In this case it’s college baseball players negotiating their first year of university and particularly frat house life. Although the film jumps awkwardly between a large group of characters, at the story’s centre is Jake (Blake Jenner), a freshman pitcher who has just joined the frat house. There he’s inducted into their hard partying, girl chasing lifestyle but just to show he’s not a complete caveman he also pursues a relationship with sensitive theatre student Beverley (Zoey Deutch).
Everybody Wants Some is a pale, unfunny and often annoying imitation of Dazed and Confused. It tries to replicate some of the Daze characters with bland Jake the analogue of Jason London’s Randall ‘Pink’ Floyd and Glen Powell’s creepy philosophising stoner Finnegan a lame attempt to recall McConaughey’s ageing football hero playboy Wooderson. None of the characters – most of whom are frat boy jocks – in this film are anywhere near as identifiable, interesting or funny as those in Dazed and Confused. This is largely due to the fact that they spend most of their time sitting around the frat house spouting obnoxious drivel. Sadly, the witty, insightful and philosophical dialogue for which Linklater is renowned is almost entirely absent. The only time the film approaches Linklater’s best work is in a few brief moments of thoughtful discussion between Jay and Beverley.
The film fleetingly tries to critique male behaviour through the guys’ idiotic competitiveness and boozy, Bacchanalian lifestyle but it doesn’t explore these compulsions in any depth. More disturbingly the film fails to critique and even celebrates misogynist meat-head behaviour.
Like Cameron Crowe, Richard Linklater is famed for his excellent use of music but while this film contains some pop classics of the era they’re not used effectively and don’t connect meaningfully to the narrative or enhance the mood of a scene. One reason for this is that there’s often very little to enhance in this plotless film. Also, some of the music is unforgivably butchered as in an excruciating scene in which the mostly white meatheads squawk out a horrible version of The Sugar Hill Gang’s Rapper’s Delight. Be warned there’s something even worse waiting in the end credits.
Oddly, the film also fails to convincingly evoke the early 1980’s. There are strategically placed retro video games, pinball machines and other artefacts of the era but these props just make it feel as if were looking at museum exhibits and don’t create an immersive experience. The characters with their porno moustaches and big hair look more like hipster parodies rather than convincing representatives of the period.
A few redeeming moments between Jay and Beverley aside Everybody Wants Some is an irritating and aimless bore.
Nick’s rating: *1/2.
Genre: Comedy/ drama.
Director(s): Richard Linklater.
Release date: 23rd June 2016.
Running time: 117 mins.
Reviewer: Nick Gardener can be heard on “Built For Speed” every Friday night from 8-10pm right here on 88.3 Southern FM. Nick can also be heard on “The Good, The Bad, The Ugly Film Show” podcast. http://subcultureentertainment.com/2014/02/the-good-the-bad-the-ugly-film-show