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Friday, April 1, 2016

On Nostalgia, Youth, and Token Diversity in EVERYBODY WANTS SOME!!

When I first saw Richard Linklater's last-day-of-college comedy, Dazed and Confused, believe it or not just five years ago, I instantly fell in love with it. Which is weird to write since I still can't really pinpoint the reason. But I think it's because of the way it makes me feel--nostalgic, silly, and young. And I still get a kick out of Parker Posey hazing the freshmen girls, screaming "you little freshmen b**ches!" Funnily enough, that scene sticks out to me more than any other in the testosterone-fueled film.

But I was worried going into EVERYBODY WANTS SOME!!, Linklater's supposed sequel to Dazed. Dazed barely had a plot to stand on, so to introduce a sequel implies that the narrative deserves a follow-up or conclusion, if you will. After watching it, I can confidently proclaim that it definitely does not. That isn't to say that EVERYBODY WANTS SOME!! is bad (it's not). It's just frivolous and fleeting. And not fleeting in the sense that it's so good that you wish it would last longer; more like fleeting in the sense that you enjoy it for the moment you're watching it and instantly forget it. There are no standout scenes or characters. In fact, each one is generically identical, and the tone of the film is just as monotonous. So, I didn't get a warm feeling in my heart after watching it.

Here's something interesting, though: while the movie itself isn't all that funny, the characters are hilarious (and yet they're not really trying to be). Similar to DazedEVERYBODY WANTS SOME!! is set in a bygone era (the early 80s), which means the costumes, slang, hair and set design are all going to be indicative of the time period. And if you remember the 80s like I do, you know that in and of itself is enough to laugh at (save for the music, which makes a kickass soundtrack here). Add to that are the actual characters: a group of white baseball jocks (and one token black dude, who I'll discuss in a bit), on the prowl for an easy lay (hence the two exclamation points in the title) to cap off the summer. Donning cropped jock tops and floral button-ups, the crew traipse across their small Texas town sniffing up skirts, smoking weed, and cracking beer cans. With just a few days left before the new school year, their idle bliss gets turned up a notch with the arrival of a freshman pitcher, Jake (Blake Jenner), who they can simultaneously torture and envy over his "quiet guy in the backseat" looks.

Of course, I couldn't help but be fascinated by the one black guy on the team, Dale (J. Quinton Johnson, in his big screen debut). Not because he was the only guy of color in the film (one of Linklater's signature traits), but because he isn't a peripheral character only there to laugh at someone else's joke and nod in the background. He delivers some of the funniest lines in the film, next to Juston Street as Jay, the typical overhyped jock with an anger management problem.

While EVERYBODY WANTS SOME!! isn't a great movie, there is something comforting about its predictability, self-awareness, and ability to basically recapture the plot of every single end-of-school-year/beginning-of-school-year teen/early 20s storyline (down to the token diversity and all the actors being way older than their characters). Except that no one really "comes of age" in this film. Rather, they just have a really great time basking in the naivete of the moment.

EVERYBODY WANTS SOME!! is now playing.

Rating: B- (*** out of *****)

Check out a few clips from the film:


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