By Eleanor Ringel Cater
Richard Linklater’s latest, “Everybody Wants Some!!,” is so terrible, so utterly disappointing that I actually came up with four leads for this review (Now, that’s a severely miffed critic).
First Lead: Perhaps the kindest thing to say about Richard Linklater’s “Everybody Wants Some!!” is that it’s a fine example of a mid-life crisis movie. Instead of buying a fancy car or discarding an old spouse – at least, I don’t think he’s done either – the filmmaker has cobbled together a needy and pathetic paean to college life circa 1980.
Second Lead: “Everybody Wants Some!!” only proves you can’t go home again. Everything that worked in Richard Linklater’s dazzling “Dazed and Confused” – the film’s self-proclaimed “spiritual” prequel – is a shambles here. The scattershot characters, the meandering piecemeal plot, the timely “what a time it was” insights – all come off as, well, dazed and confused.
Third Lead: “Everybody Wants Some!!,” Richard Linklater’s self-dubbed “spiritual sequel” to “Dazed and Confused,” is itself so dazed and confused you worry his career may be doing a Terrence Malick nose-dive.
Fourth Lead: Nobody in their right mind would want anything to do with “Everybody Wants Some!!,” Richard Linklater’s latest film.
Okay, now that those are out of my system….
What has happened to the Linklater so many of us have loved and admired for decades? After all, this is the man behind such amazing and eclectic movies as “Boyhood,” “Bernie,” “Waking Life,” “School of Rock” and “The Newton Boys.” Even when his films don’t completely work – say, the “Before Sunrise/Midnight/Sunset” trilogy – they always have something to offer.
But “Everybody” is pure bunk.
It’s August, 1980. Do you know where your past is?
Linklater does. After taking us through the final rites of high school in the aforementioned “Dazed and Confused,” he brings us the initiation rites of a freshman’s first few days on campus at a large Texas university. Classes haven’t started yet; in fact, the entire movie is presented as a countdown to the day they do.
Our hero Jake (personable Blake Jenner) arrives at the ramshackle house he’ll be sharing with the rest of his teammates on the school’s baseball team. Hijinks ensue, most of them involving sex, drugs and rock n’ roll.
And loads of booze. And lots of screwing around – not so much sexually but more like messing with the new kids, i.e., gentle and not-so-gentle hazing. For example, after the team’s first practice, the newbies are duct-taped to the outfield wall while the others enjoy a little batting practice.
The movie constantly grooves on early ‘80s nostalgia. Jake brings with him a box full of vinyl he’ll play on his faux-wood-framed stereo. Most of the guys sport long-ish, leftover-from-the-‘70s hair, with a couple of full-on Burt Reynolds moustaches. And never mind that “Women’s Lib” is almost a decade old. As the title says, everybody wants some … well … tail. Preferably with their sorority sister equivalents who, it’s broadly hinted, are all-Americans on the field, but, up here, i.e., brain-wise, are benchwarmers. (That’s actually what one of the players says about a teammate, but it’s certainly applicable to the picture’s knowingly Neanderthal take on gender politics).
Our Jake is a little different. He wants a girl with something extra, which is why he pursues a comely theater major. How does he know she’s smart? When she was unpacking, she took a typewriter out of her trunk.
How does she know he’s smart? Well, she has her own litmus test: Does the potential date know that Jim Morrison is dead? (At the same time, just how bright is this chick? She greets Jake at a costume party in an Alice in Wonderland get-up and says, “Welcome to Oz.” Huh?)
This is nitpicking, but that’s mostly because the film offers you almost no opportunity to do anything else. Linklater has applied his razor-sharp cultural I.Q. to a movie that may as well have been made in the early ‘80s. “Porky’s” comes to mind.
Which could be a clue. Perhaps Linklater has made precisely the picture he wanted to make: A chronicle of the jock mentality of a certain era – its limitations, good points, surprises, whatever. Alas, the collateral damage of capturing that scene so very well means we have to spend almost two hours with a bunch of guys most of us would’ve fled from after 10 minutes. Then and now.