Saturday, July 9, 2016

Everybody Wants Some!! Review

No one has the ability to capture the essence of transitioning between the stages of adolescence with such heart, humor and honesty like Richard Linklater. Two years ago, the Best Picture winning (fine, it didn't win, but I am still in denial) film Boyhood showed a boy named Mason experiencing the entire process of growing up between the ages of 6 and 18, and the authenticity of the story felt extraordinary due to the narrative decision to use the same actor (Ellar Coltrane) throughout and shoot over the course of twelve years. Despite Boyhood being my favorite of his films, the one that most will come back to and revisit time and time again is the classic Dazed and Confused, and who can blame those that do? It's an iconic and vital film, hysterically funny and shockingly deep under the subject matter of teenagers moving forward with their lives even if they would rather stay put.

Hysterically funny and shockingly deep? A similar serving of just that has returned as another delicious Linklater dish, this time with his self-described "spiritual sequel" to Dazed and Confused titled Everybody Wants Some!! and it's another winner from the man who simply gets how to tell stories like this. Rather than be centered on the lives of high school students, this time we get to focus on college, specifically an incoming freshman highly touted baseball prospect named Jake (Blake Jenner). What's really interesting is that this manages to be both a great film about college and a top notch baseball movie and yet almost all of it takes place in the days leading up to college and barely shows any actual playing of baseball at all. The setting of the film and the game they love are everything, yet they do not need to be seen in order for us to understand their significance to each of the characters.

The casting of this film is absolutely spot on, with every single member of the ensemble making their presence felt either in big or small ways. On the surface, much like with Dazed and Confused, this is a movie that feels simple and breezy and it plays that way wonderfully, but I was completely taken in by the intellectually rich and meaningful dialogue as well, words that almost feels as if Linklater himself is speaking through the characters he creates. Much like the ending of Boyhood, what we hear feels wiser than what is possible given the ages of the characters delivering these words and they feel baked in the nostalgic afterglow of a man who looks back at different periods of his life and means to remind others to enjoy them. Embrace them. Truly live them.

Put simply though, Everybody Wants Some!! is an absolute blast and much like Dazed and Confused I don't think I have really even scratched the surface of what makes it so great. Time will tell if it lives on as a classic like the former film. I feel good betting that it will.


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