By Chaz Lipp
Writer-director Richard Linklater explores the generally carefree life of a group of horny college baseball players at the dawn of the 1980s in Everybody Wants Some!!. As much as these guys anticipate fruitful careers in the MLB, most of them aren’t likely to go pro. It’s not that they’re bad players (though we don’t see that much on-field action), they’re just better at busting each other’s chops – and partying. Covering the fleeting final few days before the start of Fall Semester, Linklater captures the dogged resistance of young men who aren’t yet ready to abandon adolescence.
The slip of a narrative focuses on freshman Jake (Blake Jenner), a pitcher with a refreshingly mature outlook on his own future. He sees through the constant one-upmanship of his new housemates/teammates. His courting of theatre major Beverly (Zoey Deutch) provides Wants Some!! with its essentially sweet-natured heart. Beverly is quick to dismiss Jake’s baseball brethren as a bunch of proverbial dumb jocks. But Jake reveals himself to be at least as thoughtful (possibly more so) as anyone in her drama geek circle. He seems to realize that baseball might not be a constant in his life forever.
The most interesting tangents (in a movie made up primarily of nothing but tangents) are whenever Jake and his new buddies venture outside their comfort zone. The Sound Machine disco is their Texas college town’s top night spot. When drunken hijinks get out of control thanks to uber-macho (and possibly ‘roid-raging?) Niles (Juston Street), they take the party to a country bar. The team’s only black player, Dale (J. Quinton Johnson), expresses apprehension about visiting a bar full of good ol’ boys, but he’s quickly shut down by the team’s resident pseudo-philosopher Finnegan (Glen Powell): “What the Charlie Pride are you talking about?” For better or worse, that’s pretty much the extent of any race-related commentary among this group of mostly corn-fed, Middle American white dudes (who happen to all know every word of “Rapper’s Delight” – oh and stick around, they even treat us to a bit of mid-credits freestyle rhymin’).
Other culture-clash excursions include a visit to a punk rock club (where the baseball buds find common ground when the band launches into a savage cover of “The Ballad of Gilligan’s Isle”) and a costume party thrown by Beverly with her theatre friends. No matter where they find themselves, Finnegan and the guys are just looking to score. Not for nothing was Van Halen’s “Everybody Wants Some!!” chosen as the film’s title.
As funny as the gang’s interactions are, Linklater didn’t layer in much in the way of conflict or tension. The guys just sort of shamble along for nearly two hours, leaving us as abruptly as we joined them. The film’s charm is undeniable and the eschewing of anything approaching a traditional climax is bold. Everybody Wants Some!! maintains an even level of agreeableness (and achieves a subtle poignancy with a subplot involving the appropriately-named Willoughby, portrayed by Wyatt Russell). I’ll mostly likely revisit the film at some point in the future because I think Linklater instilled it with nuances that will emerge with repeat viewings.
Everybody Wants Some!! Images: Paramount Pictures