REVIEW: Everybody Wants Some!!

As distinctly as I remember anything, I remember my mother telling me before beginning high school that I should appreciate that time in my life. She said I should take advantage of the opportunities high school offered, because college was not going to be fun.  My mother has given me a lot of wonderful advice over the years, but she has never been more wrong as when she told me this!

My college years were some of the best of my life. Watching Richard Linklater’s new movie, Everybody Wants Some!!, memories came rushing back to me.  Specifically, I relived my first weekend at college where I experienced so many… “things” for the fist time in my life.  Granted, anything I did that weekend would have felt new and exciting, because I was on my own for the first time in my life.

Like Jake (Blake Jenner), I drove into town with few belongings, but would have brought my record collection before I brought clothes. I didn’t live in housing provided for the baseball team because, well, for one reason, I didn’t play baseball; however, my freshman dorm and, eventually, fraternity house, were the source of shenanigans to rival any of those in the movie.

Everybody Wants Some!! takes place over the weekend before school begins at an unidentified Texas college. Each day starts with a countdown clock for when classes start on Monday morning.  In the 72+ hours depicted in the movie, Jake and his teammates, some freshmen like him, as well as seasoned upper classmen, definitely take advantage of the opportunities that college offers them.

That’s all there is to the plot. There’s no overarching journey for any of the characters.  No one changes between beginning and end.  No one learns a life lesson.  So, don’t expect a great story from Everybody Wants Some!!  Do not take this statement to mean you can’t expect a great movie, though.  It’s truly “slice of life,” a perfect snapshot of a moment in time.

The particular moment in time is 1980. My college career began five years later, so the fine details are slightly foreign to me.  For example, I don’t recall the presence of disco in 1985; the music scene was all about New Wave.  However, it’s still familiar to me.  In one scene, the American punk movement is represented.  It’s not heavy handed, but there’s a subtle statement about changing times.

For me, Everybody Wants Some!! is a prequel to my college years. The familiar events bring nostalgia and the unfamiliar provide context.  I associate people I knew in college with characters in the movie.  Both groups have the wise, or think-they’re-wise, mentors.  Both have the serious and not-so-serious about school.  Both have super-competitive jocks.  Both have young men wandering dazed and confused.

Finnegan (Glen Powell) is the mentor. His advice for talking to women may seem ridiculous, but is nevertheless effective.  Billy Autrey (Will Brittain) is a naïve hayseed serious about school and his hometown sweetheart.  McReynolds (Tyler Hoechlin) is super-competitive; don’t beat him at Ping Pong!  Willoughby (Wyatt Russell) is the California boy claiming to set the school record with his bong hit.

With few, yet important, details casually revealed about these characters, they seem fully realized. I say, “seem” because I may have filled possible gaps with reminders of people I knew in college.  Other than Jake, through whose eyes we witness events, no character is more important than another.  Events unfold though various combinations of personalities.

While Everybody Wants Some!! is sometimes reminiscent of a raunchy comedy made during the era in which it depicts, it’s power is realized at its final moment in a single smile. At this moment, you’re hit with the cumulative effect of everything you’ve just seen.  It’s a sublime moment, not reached through action or drama, but through time and place… from making tangible an intangible emotion.

Leaving the screening of the movie, I overheard a man say he didn’t like Everybody Wants Some!! He seemed to want to like it, but his admitted unfamiliarity with the characters or situations was an obstacle for him.  However, I sat next to another man who told me that although no one event caused an overt reaction, he was smiling through the entire movie.

I understand the disparity in opinions. If I didn’t relate as much as I did to the movie, I don’t know how much I would have appreciated it.  I’d like to think I’d recognize the meaning of its final moment, even if I didn’t identify with it.  However, with my strong recommendation to see Everybody Wants Some!!, I must include the suggestion to be open-minded, have no expectations, and simply experience it.

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