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Mike Wilmington

By Mike Wilmington Wilmington@moviecitynews.com

Wilmington on DVD: Everybody Wants Some!!

EVERYBODY WANTS SOME!! (Three and a Half Stars)
U.S.: Richard Linklater, 2016

Youth is wasted on the young. Maybe. But it definitely wasn‘t squandered on Richard Linklater, that wondrously humane American filmmaker (Austin, Texas-raised auteur of the “Before” Trilogy and Boyhood), who, in his best work, uses his own youth to potently amuse us and brilliantly illuminate the worlds we share. In 1993, Linklater made one of the all-time killer high school comedies with the sublimely goofball Dazed and Confused, and now, in his latest movie, he cooks up an absolutely terrific college sex comedy – with a damned near perfect cast and dialogue to die for. The title, Everybody Wants Some!!, is a little dopey and clunky-sounding (blame Van Halen, who recorded the song that the title comes from). But the picture itself is so gracefully and hilariously executed, exclamation points shouldn’t keep you away.

Does the entire idea of an “absolutely terrific college sex comedy,” also strike you as unlikely and unappealing — especially if the cast is mostly male and mostly jock (with the actors playing the so-called varsity baseball team of fictitious South Texas State University) and if the scenes, in broad outline, are mostly what we tend to see in nearly very other gamey, sex-crazed college high jinx farce from Animal House on. But Linklater has defied expectations and twisted up genres before , and probably will again, and this movie is one that he obviously had a lot of fun making, that I had a lot of fun watching, and that — unless you refuse to give it a chance — you may, despite your better judgment, like too.

The movie takes place in the autumn of 1980 during the three days before classes start at South Texas State. It focuses on the South Texas baseball team in ensemble: a rowdy and fun-loving bunch in 80s duds and hair, and more especially on the newly recruited, somewhat more intellectual freshman pitcher Jake (Blake Jenner), whom we tend to see as the story‘s Linklater surrogate. Jake, like most of his new teammates was a high school star and is now fighting for a spot with other stars — and he arrives on campus with a box full of vinyl records, meets his roommate (a rascal in cowboy boots and underwear) and his other teammates and housemates, and then joins them for half a week of unsupervised revelry.

The fall term is about to start. And after being warned by their unsmiling, killjoy Coach Gordan (Jonathan Breck) not to imbibe anything remotely alcoholic, and not to take young lady guests up to the second floor, for a little S.T.S. R. & R. where the bedrooms are — and therefore not to do the things we absolutely know they will do — the dozen or so players are left coachless and unmonitored to play and misbehave what e’er they will.

For three days, these guys roam and drive around the campus, while Linklater and company spin a tasty play list of prime ‘80‘s rockers (starting off with The Knack’s “My Sharona,” which was also a kick-off fave in Ben Stiller’s youth comedy Reality Bites). They play games, including occasionally, baseball. They imbibe libations with plenty of alcohol content. They escort young lady guests up to the dreaded second floor. While trying a lot of boorish pickup lines (some of which work), and while bar-hopping and crashing various parties on campus, they manage to break every admonition of their tight-ass coach, and a few more besides, including taking a puff or two of the wicked weed.

SPOILER ALERT (roll over to read)

Eventually, one of them finds a neat girl (Zooey Deutch, as a brainy knockout) from the drama department. Eventually, they get around to a little baseball. Eventually, classes start. Eventually, you will not be surprised to learn (spoiler alert or no), that South Texas State is unlikely to win the college world series, or any series of any kind, and that the team roster will probably produce no pros — not even their big battling star McReynolds (Tyler Houchlin), who looks like a cross between a younger Burt Reynolds and Tom Selleck, can split a thrown baseball with an axe, and is the house‘s Alpha Dog of Dogs.

END OF SPOILER

Well, it’s not exactly “The Brothers Karamazov.” It’s not even exactly Animal House (though Linklater himself describes his creation as the “chill Animal House”). But it made me laugh and feel good, as Link‘s shows usually do. Listen, there’s a reason that so many sub-Animal House comedies have been made, even though a lot of them are so demonstrably lousy — a reason why this particular male wish-fulfillment fantasy (which I’ll grant is bro-heavy and in some ways, irresponsibly testosterone-drenched and a little jerky), keeps popping up again and again, providing employment and diversion for all the Will Ferrells and wannabe Will Ferrells of the world.

The basic daydream plot — all about guys and sometimes girls (as in Neighbors 2) running wild on campus — is more appealing than movie people like to admit, unless it’s its dressed up as farce, The reason is that there’s sometimes a grain of truth in these daffy, goofy, sex-crazed college kid movies. And, in the case of Everybody Wants Some!!, there’s more than a grain. Or a tic. Or a toke.

This is the movie all those other half-funny but smash hit groaners, from Revenge of the Nerds to Old School to the recent Seth-Rogen/Zac Ephron Neighbors semi-trilogy, could have been but weren’t. This one is genuinely funny, and unsappy, and human, even occasionally heartfelt, and it’s full of engaging characters and real emotion. And, to repeat the main point, it’s funny! Laughs! Love! The Great American Pastime! The Wicked Weed! Ball Four! Do the Hanky-Panky on the Second Floor! Everybody Wants Some! Excuse me, I meant to say “Some!!”

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The Promised Land steers into the fact that the United States can mean whatever people want it to mean. You may not be able to be Elvis, but you can sure as shit impersonate him for a living. America, like its current President (at least as of this article’s publication), is so dangerous precisely because it’s a blank canvas on which anyone can project their dreams. Whatever it is that you see for yourself, there’s someone you can pay for the pleasure of believing that it’s possible. In his view, the pursuit of happiness is the ultimate con, a delusion that prevents us from seeing our circumstances for what they are.

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