Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Review: In ‘Everybody Wants Some!!,’ Casual Sex and Casual Philosophizing

From left, Austin Amelio, Tanner Kalina (seated), Forrest Vickery, Tyler Hoechlin and Ryan Guzman in “Everybody Wants Some!!” Credit Van Redin/Paramount Pictures
Everybody Wants Some!!” is many things — a baseball caper, a sex farce, a campus romance, a campus bromance — but the film’s real claim to distinction may be that it’s the least suspenseful ticking-clock movie ever. We start out counting down the days and hours over the last long weekend before the beginning of the fall semester at a Texas college, and at the end of the movie (spoiler alert? are you kidding me?) it’s time for class.
The professor, who is only the second or third responsible adult to appear onscreen, writes a thought-provoking quotation on the board: “Frontiers are where you find them.” I’m not sure where else they are supposed to be, but since the writer and director of “Everybody Wants Some!!” is Richard Linklater, there’s no harm in accepting an invitation to some casual philosophizing. That’s what the characters in his movies tend to do, even the ballplayers in this one. And though their days are spent in pursuit of sex, beer and other delights, the movie does have an undertow of profundity.
Like the quizzical slackers in “Slacker,” the boy in “Boyhood” and Celine and Jesse in the “Before” trilogy, the guys on the Southeast Texas State University baseball team are aware of the riddles and paradoxes of time. The strange rhythms of its passage, and the ways those can be captured and counterfeited on film are among Mr. Linklater’s abiding preoccupations. He has described “Everybody Wants Some!!,” which takes place in 1980, as a “spiritual sequel” to “Dazed and Confused,” his ’70s high school masterpiece. It’s also something of a sequel to “Boyhood,” since it picks up at almost exactly the life-cycle moment where that movie left off: a young man arrives at college, approaching an invisible frontier on the way to maturity.

Trailer: 'Everybody Wants Some!!'

A preview of the film.
By PARAMOUNT PICTURES on Publish Date December 26, 2015. Photo by Internet Video Archive. Watch in Times Video »
Jake (Blake Jenner), a freshman pitcher, shows up at the team house with a crate full of LPs and an easy, slightly wary smile. He receives a mostly friendly welcome, though one guy is forthright about his distaste for pitchers. Jake’s roommate, wearing only underpants and cowboy boots, is talking on the phone with his girlfriend. The coach drops by to explain the rules — no women upstairs, no alcohol in the house — mostly so the audience can have the vicarious pleasure of watching as they’re broken.
Plot summary? The guys play Ping-Pong, practice baseball, tease one another mercilessly, smoke weed, listen to records and try to pick up girls, not really in that or any other order. There is mud-wrestling, half-naked Twister and a lot of casual sex. In the midst of it all, Jake pursues a crush on a theater major (Zoey Deutch), who invites him to a party. He gets to know his teammates, whose names are harder to keep track of than their defining attributes. There’s the sane one (J. Quinton Johnson), the vain one (Tyler Hoechlin), the philosopher (Glen Powell) and the “raw dog” (Juston Street), an arrogant fastballer with a ratty mustache and a hot temper. Also a secondary assortment of goofballs, dimwits and wingmen, each of whom gets at least one big play for the highlight reel.
The facial hair works along with the soundtrack, the cars and the clothes to conjure a 1980 that viewers who were around back then may find uncannily, even painfully realistic. “Everybody Wants Some!!,” which partakes of Mr. Linklater’s own recollections of Texas, baseball and college, unfolds in a mood of sweet, lascivious retrospect. Only four years of historical time separate it from “Dazed and Confused,” but the director is more than 20 years older now, and the greater distance shows. The high jinks in the earlier film were laced with anxiety and aggression: The pranks had a cruel edge, and there was a predatory vibe to some of the sexuality. When you are in your early 30s, as Mr. Linklater was back then, high school is not that far behind you.
Blake Jenner, left, and Glen Powell in “Everybody Wants Some!!” Credit Van Redin/Paramount Pictures
But when you are in your 50s, college is an almost mythically distant land, and “Everybody Wants Some!!” is more than just nostalgic. It’s downright utopian, a hormonal pastoral endowed with the innocent charm of a children’s book. There are plenty of movies about lust-addled youth, but it’s unusual to find one that feels truly wholesome. In college, one of Jake’s new pals explains, “The girls can be just as slutty as the guys,” and at this college, at least, the pursuit of pleasure proceeds without shame, risk or hard feelings. (The guys, by the way, are as vain as any gossip girls, primping endlessly before heading out to a club and admiring the curve-hugging tightness of their own jeans.) The premise is explained in the title, and everybody gets at least some of what they want.
Mr. Linklater has never been inclined to moralize, and he has banished all piety from this movie, along with any conflict larger than the occasional collision of male egos. There is no political correctness on this campus, and no politics of any kind beyond the adjacent Carter and Reagan voter-registration tables outside the campus dining hall. The film brushes ever so lightly against issues of race and class, but is finally more interested in how its characters are divided by taste, temperament and attitude.
For the most part they all get along, fellow citizens in a republic of horniness. The athletes, who at once embody and upend the stereotype of the shallow, sexually entitled jock, go to a disco, a country-and-western bar, a punk-rock show and various parties, and they have a good time wherever they are. It is impossible not to have a good time in their company. You can try to be judgmental or jealous, but the beer flows too freely and the camaraderie — which I guess you could call peer pressure — is just too strong.
“Everybody Wants Some!!” is rated R (Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian). Dude! Running time: 1 hour 57 minutes.

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