Editor’s Notes: Everybody Wants Some!! will be released on its respective home video format on July 12th.
Even though Everybody Wants Some!! (Paramount) has the worst title of any movie this year, it has a charm that one wouldn’t expect from a story about a group of jocks preparing for the new college semester.
The film opens with Jake Bradford (Blake Jenner, TV’s Glee) driving his Olds 442 into the parking lot of Southeast Texas State University, ready to begin his freshman year on a baseball scholarship. The movie takes place over the next three days before his first class. In episodic fashion, we see Jake getting to know his teammates, visiting the off-campus hot spots, suffering hazing indignities, putting up with the guys’ idiosyncrasies, and falling for a theatre major who expands his social circle.
There are touches that effectively suggest the 80s — vintage video game machines, waterbeds, discos, tight jeans, mosh pits, vinyl LPs, and pre-AIDS casual hook-ups. The soundtrack, in particular, really transports the viewer to that period with songs from Devo, Blondie, Cheap Trick, Frank Zappa, Queen, Pat Benatar, and The Cars, among others.
Director Richard Linklater (Boyhood, Dazed and Confused) is best at depicting the bonding among Jake and his teammates and their endless, often humorous competitiveness. Female characters, with the exception of Beverly (Zoey Deutch) — the girl Jake is attracted to — are literally background atmosphere. There is no major plot running throughout the picture. Instead, a series of vignettes highlights each player for a while and nothing ever ties these moments together into a cohesive whole. It’s pleasant enough spending time with these guys but afterwards there’s a sense of, “Why did I invest two hours with this film?”
If Everybody Wants Some!! were a TV series, such an approach would be fine, since there is time to stretch story lines and deepen characterization. In a feature film, however, there should be some payoff for the viewer who becomes invested in these characters. It never comes.
Jenner plays Jake not as a naive kid from the sticks, which might have been the easier approach. He’s pretty hip, self-assured, and certainly good looking, but he’s also a down-to-earth regular guy without the arrogance of a Big Man on Campus type. It’s mentioned that the baseball team is the only athletic team at the school that consistently makes it to state championship competition, so the unstated reality is that Jake is a “catch” for the co-eds. But this would be the ultimate cliche, and Jenner manages to come across as both a fun-loving guy and a gentleman.
Conflict drives narrative, whether in drama or comedy. It’s the hook that gets us involved and holds our attention as we anticipate how the conflict will be resolved. Though Everybody Wants Some!! has some minor conflicts along the way, there is no central one. If you were graphing the conflict level, there would be no major peak, just little bumps.
Rated R, Everybody Wants Some! is at its most endearing in the smaller moments —a first phone call between Jake and Beverly in which each is clearly interested in the other, a moment when jock bravado gives way to insecurity, teammates sharing hopes that top performance will attract scouts from the Major Leagues. Not many directors would risk making a film that is entirely character-driven and depends on the viewer’s getting on board the journey of a group of guys navigating the responsibilities of team membership without sacrificing a good time.
Bonus features on the 2-disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack include three behind-the-scenes making-of featurettes, deleted scenes and outtakes, and first edition slipcover packaging. A digital HD copy is enclosed.