Everybody Wants Some!! proves college movies can have substance.
When you shuffle through the pile of American college themed films, it’s very difficult to find anything that doesn’t comprise solely of sex, nudity, drugs and stupidity.
Sure American Pie is fun if you’re 15 years old, over-tired and mildly obsessed with sexual obscenities, but if you’re searching for depth of any kind, you’ve very much stumbled into the wrong genre.
Set in the 1980s, ‘Everybody Wants Some!!’ follows a college baseball team and their frat-inspired debauchery over the first few days of a semester. It’s a comedy, a funny one, and with a mass of drugs, drinking and women but very little plotline, one could easily make the mistake of pre-emptively categorising it amongst the other college-themed movies. But that would definitely be a mistake. Because Everybody Wants Some!! is, almost pioneeringly, much more.
As mentioned, a plotline is all but absent. If I were to summarise the narrative, I could easily do so in a short sentence. Jake, a college freshman, falls for a girl.
See, I told you I could. But, refreshingly, the lack of substantial plot is intentional, and works well. While a specific narrative arc – a tranquil beginning, a disturbed peace in the middle and a resolution at the conclusion – is very faint, this does not mean the film has no story. In fact, it is this very lack of anything grand that enables the entertaining and real insight into the lives of everyday college students.
The bulk of dialogue, and indeed the source of most of the film’s laughs, is the banter between the baseball team.
Living in the same house, we watch as the boys constantly tiff over all those standard things: begging a roommate to evacuate the room in order to bring a girl in; a little too-vigorous teasing about their mate’s methods of flirting that results in offence; and fierce competitiveness over seemingly everything. But somehow, very impressively, writer and director Richard Linklater manages to weave a layer of complexity between these endless shenanigans.
There is a lovely moment where Jake is watching two of his friends compete in a game of knuckles – flicking each others’ knuckles until one quits from pain.
Smoking a joint on the couch, Jake turns to his mate and asks: “Have you ever noticed that everything we do is a competition?” At this instant, you realise the entire film up to this point has been a near montage of little contests: table-tennis battles; bets over who can chop a pitched baseball in half with an axe; drinking wars. The friend replies with one of the movie’s many moments of casual philosophy: this is how they’re such a great team – each and every one of them is built to despise losing. The camera cuts back to the loser of the knuckles match storming out of the room in a fit of rage.
The trail of depth lingers throughout the film, and it is what makes it so much more than just another American Pie.
Stereotypes get raised and dissected, as characters question whether they are more than just baseball players, and if being an athlete limits one’s ability to display and act upon intelligence. But this is all achieved quietly, with deft subtlety. It would be very easy to miss all of this and consider the film as a purely fun comedy. Which wouldn’t be so terrible. Either way would be enjoyable.
For these reasons, the film can be enjoyed by not only college-aged students and curious 15 year olds, but older audiences as well.
It is a nuanced comedy that is very believable, and one that everyone can identify with in some way. Plus, if you lived through the 80s or enjoy 80s music, there’s an absolutely cracking score you won’t be able to resist boogying to.
Overall, Everybody Wants Some!! is easy viewing. It is fun and enjoyable, and if you’re like me and happened to watch it on a very rainy, very Monday morning, it will be sure to ease you through the day.
My rating: 7.5