Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Review: Everybody Wants Some!!

Everybody Wants Some!!
Cert: 15 / 117 mins / Dir. Richard Linklater / Trailer

To use one exclamation mark in a title looks needy; to use two shows an astonishing lack of judgement. Okay, it’s not the three or four that the office oddball uses for passive-aggressive post-it notes on the fridge about replacing the milk, but still. No, this preliminary sign of enforced hilarity harks directly to the Van Halen track of the same name and punctuation. Which is a nice tribute to the glory-days, but how can you really trust the band who ended up with Gary Cherone singing for them..?

Now, I don’t always see films with the song Pop Muzik in the soundtack, but when I do, I like to watch two in the same week. Richard Linklater’s love-letter to his own past takes all the hallmarks of the American Frat-comedy, set in 1980 as Jake (Blake Jenner)*1 arrives at college and is housed with his prospective baseball team. The film then follows the inhabitants through Jake’s eyes over the next three days before term begins, as the guys drink, fight, party and generally break every rule that’s unceremoniously laid down in the first act.

This feels like Linklater’s got the cast, the characters, soundtrack, the wardrobe (and my god, the haircuts), and in many cases even the dialogue. He just doesn’t really know what he wants to say with them, opting instead to coast on charm and shoddily-linked set-pieces. Nothing really happens in this movie, but the strength of the cast isn't enough to hold the whole thing together in the meanwhile. I’ll bet this film-maker tells a cracking anecdote, providing it doesn’t have to run for more than about three minutes.

Even after all this time, I still feel like Richard Linklater owes me for sitting through a three-hour film which felt like five, where nothing happened for twelve years. To be fair, the audience I was with certainly found Everybody Wants Some!! vocally amusing, although that same crowd also whooped and guffawed through the trailer for a Melissa McCarthy film. You know, it’s really not easy being a comedy-snob. Certainly not as easy as I make it look, anyway.

[ A quick question for those of you more knowledgeable about the US educational system than I am: is the ‘mature’ age of some of the frat-guys meant to be an in-joke about jocks graduating high-school later because they’ve been repeatedly held back a year? Only there’s a part of the film where bearded stoner Willoughby is expelled when the college finds out that he’s 30 and has been lying about his age. This would be fine if there weren’t at least two other students in his social group alone who look closer to forty. Or is that the joke..? ]

Although I categorically didn’t ‘not enjoy’ this, it irks me that the film ends on a smug, self-congratulatory note that it really hasn’t earned. I really wanted to like Everybody Wants Some!! more because the trailer looked like a lot of fun. I just found that sitting down in front of the final product, I really couldn’t.

Richard Linklater's chaotic, debauched, freewheeling college-movie is the setting for a great story. Someone should really write one to go in there...

So, watch this if you enjoyed?
Well it never gets as garish as bona-fide Frat-Comedies, but nor is it as ponderous as Boyhood. I'd guess it's closest to Dazed and Confused, but only because a) I haven't seen that movie, and b) Linklater calls this movie a 'spiritual sequel' to it, and he'd know I suppose.

And let's be honest, it's going to have to be a pretty rainy afternoon before I get far enough down the pile to watch it and find out, now isn't it?

Should you watch this in a cinema, though?
Only if you like communal laughs, it's not necessarily cinematic.

Does the film achieve what it sets out to do?
Oh, probably.

Is this the best work of the cast or director?
I'm just going to pass on that one, outright…

Will I think less of you if we disagree about how good/bad this film is?
I shouldn't imagine so (especially since everyone else seems to adore it).

Yes, but is there a Wilhelm Scream in it?
There isn't.

Yes, but what's the Star Wars connection?
Level 2: Everybody Wants Some stars Tyler Hoechlin, who also appeared in Road to Perdition, as did Daniel 'inept Stormtrooper' Craig.

And if I HAD to put a number on it…

*1 And really, having a character called Jake played by the actor Blake Jenner just makes it look like Linklater's got some sort of intricate formula going on so that he doesn't have to think up character names by himself. "Harrison Ford? Great, now you'll be playing a chap called Farrison…"

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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