By Jennifer Taylor – Special to the Navarro County Gazette
Texas in Film is a new Navarro County Gazette series focusing on Texas-based actors, directors, and producers, as well as movies that are based or filmed in The Lone Star State.
Everybody Wants Some!! by Austin director Richard Linklater is private look into group of macho jocks where not much happens plot-wise. It’s a ‘day in the life’ or, in this case, an extended weekend ensemble story.
If you’re waiting for them to beat a rival college, get a star spot on the baseball team, or fix a relationship with a loved one, it’s not here. It’s slightly disorienting, but through no fault of the director. As viewers, we’re accustomed to story beats and expected events, but they aren’t there.
Yet the ‘nothing’ adds to the realism. Generally, we don’t go on great quests, fend off attacks, or have an epic adventure. Existence leads into the next day for most, and it’s the same here. Typical with Linklater films, it’s a study of life, be it over years like with one of Linklater’s other films, Boyhood, or just small snapshots.
The enjoyment is in the interaction between the guys (and some girls) as they enjoy a time that will never come again. A few realize it and cling hard, while others have thoughts of a vague future where they’ll do ‘something,’ but don’t know what. For now, it’s a period where you’re no longer a kid in high school. The ‘real world’ is waiting, but college life lets us party and do what we love for a bit longer.
The protagonist is Jake Bradford (Blake Jenner), a promising pitcher in his Freshman year. There he meets the other men who’ll become his friends. Verbally stinging, challenging, and loveable jerks, but mostly non-toxic.
His roommate is Billy (Will Brittain) but called “Beuter”. Named since the guys ‘had’ to find the most stereotypical Southern name to match his thick accent. There’s the vaguely Californian stoner, Charlie Willoughby (Wyatt Russell) – the more metaphysical in the home who tells Jake to embrace his weird side and ‘Open his mind.’ The group leaders include McReynolds (Tyler Hoechlin), dressed in early 80s sports attire and mustache. His buddy Finnegan (Glen Powell) is easily the most intellectual, with plenty of observations and to share with anyone who’ll listen.
Other characters momentarily shine before fading away like fireflies into the background. With over ten men there isn’t enough screen time to dive deep into their stories.
Soon it’s time for a drunken party, then the next day comes with more drinking and “cruising for chicks.” After being thrown out thanks to Jay’s (Juston Street) anger issues and a poorly made “screwdriver”, they travel to a country-western bar. More back-and-forth dialogue common in Linkletter films and then even more parties. They are college guys who love their social life, and hooking up with girls.
While this makes the movie sound superficial, it’s the little moments where the males are being guys. It’s never presented as a bad thing or something to be excused. They simply are themselves. Men shall see their friends from their twenties, and women find familiarity like I did with memories of my male cousins from Arkansas. They one-up each other, like playing the finger-flicking game till there’s bloody knuckles and lose their temper while another innocently beats them at ping pong. It’s all fun and games until someone loses. Then you’re left with a broken paddle.
While there is posturing, they’re there to help each other and the story paints them less like twenty-year-olds looking to get wasted (and other things), and more about an impromptu family. The unofficial rule is: We can dog on you but don’t be selfish to the group. The one person who doesn’t follow the rule gets called out and shamed. There is a sub-plot about Jake’s overall sweet pursuit of a theater major, but it takes a back seat to the male friendships.
Beyond that, watch for a revisit to a time gone: the early 80s, but culturally closer to the 70s. They go to a disco, chill with punk friends, and listen to Pink Floyd. Meanwhile media and politics created early but considered 80s like Van Halen, Sugarhill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight”, early VCRs, and Reagan/Bush signs seep in.
Once the movie’s over, you’ll feel like you were at a retro party – several really – with a decent group of guys, although a bit rough around the edges.
Connections to our state: Filmed in Texas, Houston born director (lives in Austin).