"Everybody Wants Some": Lesser Linklater

"Everybody Wants Some" is Richard Linklater's well-meaning, pleasant, mildly entertaining love letter to an idealized past. It's all hijinks and slightly forced hilarity.

Life must have been easier in 1980. It seems that there were only college pranks and panty-raids, no politics or pathologies, angst, abuse or abortion. Race is clearly not an issue in Texas, as there is hardly a notice that one of the athletes is Black. One Black athlete (J. Quinton Johnson as Dale) on what purports to be one of the best teams in the country? The most important worry was getting laid and sometimes making it to classes on time.

Linklater follows incoming freshman Jake Bradford (Blake Jenner) through a long weekend introduction to higher education and the baseball team. Bradford meets his new team members at the baseball dorm, a large, well appointed old house just off campus.

The baseballers are predictable suburban types with just enough texture to be individually recognized. Over the top Jay (Juston Street) is hyper competitive. Amiable Finnegan (Glen Powell) and country bumpkin Beuter (Will Britain) are right out of central casting. Only the bearded, drug experimenting Willoughby (Wyatt Russell) provides a slight surprise and quick look into another reality. But what did you expect, he is after all bearded!

For romantic interest, Jake meets theater major Beverly (Zoey Deutch) shortly after the credits fade . . . and by the movie's end one needn't guess with whom he ends up.

In between, the young ball players bounce from party to party, from bar to bar . . . disco to country western to punk. They are equal opportunity drinkers and girl chasers, adapting themselves to any entertainment environment. Their paths are fueled with over written banter and what we are to take as good natured ribbing.

Set pieces are a bit over produced. Within feet of each other in their house driveway, every sport known to athletes is being almost over-lappingly played . . . so close indeed that players could have been multi-tasking teams without going out of bounds. We are to understand they have a lot of competitive energy, but this tracking shot compresses their athleticism into a undergrad decathlon. The scene within the baseball house is a mirror image of outside: pinball, pool, pac man, foosball and ping pong played frenetically in close confines. Did they even have room in the house for a kitchen and dining room? Their batting practice hazing is a bit implausible, but does look like fun.

Lack of dramatic tension gives the movie a genial, meandering pace. With little apparent danger that anything of consequence will happen, Linklater rolls out his characters partially developed personalities on the cusp of discovery, without understanding what it will mean.

There is safety from the responsibility and the harsher realities of adulthood. But it robs us of seeing deeper into that fertile period between childhood and adulthood. I understand that "everybody wants some" . . . and what I want is to see beneath and beyond this façade.

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