Richard Linklater's latest cinematic venture takes a turn for the carefree, leaving any real meaning behind him, resulting in a solid portrayal of the life of a young male with nothing to lose and everything to prove, in only a few days.
‘Lads, lads, lads!!’, as the age-old saying goes, is a proverb not administered by many recent films, let alone recent culture, as we all must know by now.
Oh wait. I’ve got it wrong. It is. It most definitely is.
Richard Linklater’s latest venture sees freshman Jake (Blake Jenner) saunter his way through the first few days of college with his fellow baseball teammates, having earnt a place at a college with one of the best national baseball teams. ‘Saunter’ is the key word here; with the film boasting a very masculine gaze in a way which lacks any depth, meaning or, frankly, any direction. But that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
Where the film lacks in depth, it gains two-fold in hilarity. Where it fails in direction or point, it has in charm and confidence. To be frank, ‘confident’ is probably the one word that could describe Everybody Wants Some!! the most accurately. There is no real plot or drive to the story, other than Jake making his way through the first weekend of college as a newbie, but it is definitely refreshing to see a film that applies this so confidently, without the need to hint at some contrived underlying message to give it some forced significance. If a message had to be imposed onto the film, it would be simply to have fun, it doesn’t matter who or what you are, but it doesn’t need that. Everybody Wants Some!! contains that significance on its own.
Teasing a brilliant soundtrack with the likes of The Knack’s ‘My Sharona’, Blondie’s ‘Heart of Glass’ and even the Gilligan’s Island theme, the film is consistent in tone without ever feeling the need to pull the audience’s emotions to and fro, in what would undoubtedly be no more than a half-hearted attempt at registering importance with the audience. No, the film engages its audience in a very different way – although the male gaze is undeniable, bordering on misogynistic at times, it’s difficult to find yourself not relating to at least some of the film’s 116-minute run time.
As much as the film boasts a great and undeniable sense of wit, and as much as the screenplay is just an excellent example of how to write relationships of any kind, Everybody Wants Some!! does, unfortunately, also boast a host of misogynistic undertones. Of course, you could argue that ‘boys will be boys’, but so many of the jokes, so many of the shots, and the entire first half hour of the film only succeeded in reinforcing cultural and gendered stereotypes. Isn’t it time we stopped being fed the stereotype of ‘boys will be boys’ in modern cinema? Not only for women in the obvious sense of objectification, but for men too – can we stop being fed the stereotype that all men are only obsessed with beer and sex? Frankly, it’s been getting tiring for a while now.
At least our protagonist, Jake, shows some signs of variation in the stereotype, among a handful of others, yet only in the last half hour or so. Such a character change seems forced, contrived, predictable. But such undertones end up fading from the horizon of importance eventually, as the carefree nature takes over once again. Whilst the film has its serious moments, these are few and far between, creating a significance about them which hints at a superior understanding of the characters by the audience over the characters themselves. Just as they never seem to gage the depth of their peers’ actions or the loss of others, we never seem to stop realising it. It’s this tension between the carefree and the serious which forms the backbone of the film, forms the sense of engagement we get for such a plotless story.
Everybody Wants Some!! is, put simply, just a film about fun and having fun, and watching it is no more than just a lot of fun. I’m unsure whether it has the potential to be remembered, especially with Linklater‘s previous, more daring (and I predict more successful) Boyhood coming to cinemas only a year and a half ago, but for now it remains as an individual; a unique, a nostalgic and a rather personalised venture to nowhere in particular.
Everybody Wants Some!! (2016), directed by Richard Linklater, is released in the UK on 13th May by Entertainment One. Certificate 15.