“Everybody Wants Some!” (2016)
Film is reviewed from the 2016 SXSW Film Festival screening.
It’s 1981 in a small Texas college town where most of the sports teams of the college suck, all but the baseball team. The team rules the campus and just about the whole town, living in two old houses off campus, where there are only two rules laid down by their coach; no girls upstairs and no alcohol. Needless to say that both rules will be broken within in a few hours of the house manager laying down the law.
Into this environment walks freshman pitcher Jake (Blake Jenner), a likable but sometimes too smart for his own good 18-year old who must quickly find his place in this new world of booze, manliness and baseball. The team is ruled by the upperclassmen; Roper (Ryan Guzman), the ringleader of the house and the man with a line for every lady and McReynolds (Tyler Hoechlin), the best hitter on the team and a fiery personality to match his talent. Jake soon meets some of his other team members including Willoughby (Wyatt Russell) who seems to be on a mission to smoke as much weed as he can, Nesbit (Austin Amelio) a cock-sure upperclassman who never backs down from a challenge and Billy Autrey (Will Brittain), Jake’s new roommate and a teenager right out of West Texas central casting, drawl and all.
Jake is soon wrangled by the upperclassmen to go out for a little cruising of the campus for a little drinking before the team meets with the baseball coach for the first time. In a parking lot of a dorm, the guys encounter two girls who just aren’t falling for the upperclassmen’s lines, in fact, one of the girls, Beverly (Zoey Deutch), instead, tells the guys she is more interested in Jake, “the quiet one” over anyone else in the car. This is a girl that Jake will long remember, as he is determined to see her again, and isn’t going about to let college get in the way.
“Everybody Wants Some!” is a blast to watch, sort of a sequel to “Dazed and Confused,” Richard Linklater’s 1993 classic film about a bunch of Texas high school students experiencing their last days of high school. While not the same characters as in “Dazed,” the baseball team does inhabit the same small town Texas world, just a little older but certainly not the wiser. The film explores what it was like to go to college in Texas in the early eighties where Disco was starting to die, the “Urban Cowboy” craze was ruling the roost and the punk rock/new wave scene was still going strong. Linklater lets us get a taste of all these worlds, as the guys try to go with the flow, hitting bar after bar, in the search for free drinks and women.
The film takes place over the three days prior to the first day of class. It’s a tip to Linklater’s narrative talent that the film moves seamlessly from one day to the next, with the nights of rowdy behavior followed by a morning of recovery. Interspersed between parties, are conversations that range from talking about ESP (weed aided of course) to how to survive on a team full of competitors. This gives the film time to fill out the characters, making them seem more real than your typical college high jinks film. This makes Jake, Roper, and the others come off as much more rounded, fleshed out characters that we can enjoy. The quick banter back-and-forth as we learn about each team member makes the film flow, and is so much fun that often at my screening the laughter was so loud you couldn’t hear the response. Linklater’s knack of making dialogue seem natural while seamlessly flowing helps make this film feel as if we are almost taking part of the baseball team banter. The soundtrack is an amazing mix of different genres that perfectly reflect the times and the changing moods of taste. Everything thing from the flashy rock of Van Halen to the punk rock of Patti Smith to the country classic, the “Cotten Eyed Joe” contributes to fit the film perfectly for the time period.
The young, mostly unknown cast is outstanding with Ryan Guzman as the quick-witted Roper, Tyler Hoechlin as the brash MyReynolds and Austin Amelio as the boisterous Nesbit standing out. The secondary story of the film is the romance between Blake Jenner’s Jake and Zoey Deutch, the theatre major Beverly. Beverly is about the only woman in the movie that is treated as she isn’t a conquest for the team to win and Deutch gives us a performance that is smart and multi-layered, creating someone that Jenner’s Jake would be interested in. There is great chemistry between the two, as sparks fly from their first date as they talk and have ice cream, to their last date when they spend the whole night talking, right up to almost the first class of the year. Jenner is the standout of the film, as we instantly like his Blake, a guy that is trying to find his place on the team. Jenner also is able to show us that at the same time, it’s apparent that Blake is more than just a ball player, he is someone who has an intelligence in him that he can hold his own with the whip-smart Beverly.
Linklater has created a film, which while a little shallow at times, is so much fun that you are willing to overlook its few flaws. While a welcome addition to “Dazed and Confused,” this is a film that deserves it’s own place in the Linklater film repertoire. As with “Dazed and Confused,” which gets better with each viewing, you will want to revisit the baseball team from the small Texas college town for years to come. My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again
My movie rating system from Best to Worst: 1). I Would Pay to See it Again 2). Full Price 3). Bargain Matinee 4). Cable 5). You Would Have to Pay Me to See it Again
“Everybody Wants Some!” comes out this April.