Monday, August 1, 2016

Everybody Wants Some!!

I almost wish Rick Linklater had been there to film my earlier days, cruising endless circles around the parking lot at Lake Worth Beach, or years later, smoking a clove cigarette during a work break with my co-worker/girlfriend.  And all the endless philosophical rambles in between.  I only have somewhat hazy memories to call upon, thinking about those laid back moments that played out during what many call "halcyon youth".  I desire this because Linklater has a talent for capturing people during their most unguarded moments - good and bad - and making it all feel organic.  So real.   Be fun to watch, not in the hopes that his objectivity would reduce my disorganized memory to actual images but because his style happens to foster a sort of unreal reality.   Plausible events that might be a few degrees off what really happened.  The way we tend to remember things.

Writer/director Richard Linklater has made a few documentaries but his main output consists of fictional characters who resemble those with whom you grew up, shared classes, and maybe even a joint.  But you don't have to be a stoner to appreciate his point of view, sometimes seen through a central character or maybe even several.  Or, as with several moments in 1993's DAZED AND CONFUSED, through some almost celestial omniscence.  An otherworldy eye that sees clearly yet selectively. 

This year's EVERYBODY WANTS SOME!! has been called (by the director himself) a "spiritual" sequel to DAZED.  Apt.  The method and purpose are similar.  Many script elements and events are likewise.  Both films feature the joys of hanging out, philosophizing, extended bong hits, pinball, and foosball.   We are not seeing an update of the earlier film's characters, though some of the new ones may remind you of them.  This time we spend a weekend (before classes begin) with collegiate baseball players at a fictitious college in Texas in 1980.  The guys form an unofficial fraternity, living in their own houses on the edge of campus and certainly behaving like frat animals.  They came to get drunk and get laid, and they're all out of beer.  They really seem to have one track minds, although on the diamond they're all business.

But we don't see that until nearly three quarters into the movie, a wise choice on the director's part the more you ponder it.  Prior, the teammates are mostly seen getting high and cruising chicks.  Lots of bravado and testosterone.  Freshmen intimidation.   And, tellingly, they're extremely competitive about everything.  Friendly ping pong matches turn ugly.  Knuckle flicking contests get bloody.  Egos are easily bruised.   They also can't understand all the other students on campus, those not on the baseball team.  What is their purpose anyway, man?

That the film takes place in a very transitory time is as integral to EVERYBODY WANTS SOME!! as 1976 was to DAZED AND CONFUSED.  1970s hedonism and free spiritedness is still the zeitgeist in this fall of 1980 world, though indications are about that the party will soon end.  Check the film's tagline - "Here for a good time, not a long time."  One character utters this very line as he is asked to vacate the pitcher's mound during practice. Why? The school's administration has discovered his transcript is phony, that he is a thirty year old who wasn't able to make the pros and has flitted from university to university in an attempt to keep that party going.  Growing up's a bitch, brah.  This story thread may well be the film's central theme.  Remember Wooderson?

But the movie is also great fun.  Blake Jenner, as a freshman/former high school baseball star who finds himself among giants, leads a very appealing cast of mostly unknowns.  Depending on your tolerance and sensibilities (and if you were ever picked on by guys like these), you may recoil at watching the exploits of a group of arrogant men/children who often act like, yeah, douchebags.  Why would you want to spend two hours with these misogynistic knuckle draggers? The actors (and Linklater, basing some of this on his own college days) make their characters engaging and sometimes even likeable.  There isn't one um, slacker in this cast; they all nail it. You can't help but get caught up in their continuous efforts to attract the opposite sex, once pretending to like country music 'cause a lot of the girls like to line dance.

The plot sounds like any other lame brained '80s youth film ala PORKY'S or GORP, but Linklater again manages a point of view that makes everything fascinating, rather than just repugnant. Like a really cool documentary, sorta liked DAZED.  He does throw in a sex montage, complete with gratuitous topless shot, but maybe he was winking at those type of movies.

The dialogue, as usual, gets much deeper than your average teen comedy.  Some have criticized the film, saying that guys like this usually don't have such self awareness or at least don't verbalize it.  But in Linklater's irresistible, fascinating universe, the unlikely is possible.  Based on truth, but...  Like that story you tell your other middle aged buds about your wild prom night.

P.S. - Another great soundtrack:   mostly "classic rock" but also some disco, country, and even punk.  Brian Eno and Frank Zappa are featured! I also finally learned the title and artist of this groovy song from my elementary school days: Sniff 'n' the Tears' "Driver's Seat".  And yes, Van Halen's song bearing the film's title is in there, too.
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