Directed by: Richard Linklater
Produced by: Megan Ellison
Screenplay by: Richard Linklater
Starring: Blake Jenner
Cinematography by: Shane F. Kelly
Editing by: Sandra Adair
Studio(s): Annapurna Pictures
Distributed by: Paramount Pictures
Release date(s): March 11, 2016 (South By Southwest Film Festival)
March 30, 2016 (United States)
May 13, 2016 (United Kingdom)
Running time: 116 minutes
Country: United States
Production budget: $10 million
Box-office revenue (as of publication): $4, 608, 655
Today's film up for review is Everybody Wants Some!!, the latest film by writer-director Richard Linklater. For those of you who don't know, I love Linklater and think that he is one of the best filmmakers of his generation, and certainly at this stage he'd have to be considered among the greatest of all-time. He has at least four masterpieces to his name in Dazed And Confused, the Before trilogy (which I'm counting as one overall work), Waking Life and Boyhood, the latter of which won the 8th Annual Clockwork Award for Best Film from yours truly, as well as several other notable pictures like Slacker, A Scanner Darkly and Bernie. This newest work is considered by Linklater to be a "spiritual sequel" both to Dazed And Confused and Boyhood, and leading an ensemble cast is Blake Jenner as Jake Bradford, a college freshman and hotshot high-school pitcher in the fall of 1980, whose exploits we follow as he moves into the house of his roommates and other members of the Southeast Texas Cherokee college baseball team. Got it? Good!
To start off with the good, the acting all-round from the ensemble cast is on form, but I'd like to flag up a few in particular. Blake Jenner is a strong lead, and Zoey Deutsch, who with five releases in 2016 has had a hell of a year, has great chemistry with him and establishes herself firmly in the position of someone who can be relied upon to play the sweet and humorous comedy queen. Glen Powell, with a look not dissimilar to Gary Oldman in The Firm, plays an engaging charismatic rogue, and Wyatt Russell really breaks out in the part of Willoughby, the team's resident stoner-cum-philosopher. I'll always say this as well for Linklater, as I suppose it is a trademark of sorts for him as a writer, but he has one hell of an ear for dialogue, and this is no exception. It contributes greatly to the makeup of the film, and adds to the gallery of characters, who Linklater also writers not as tropes, although they are based upon them, but as real human beings. It's one of the things that separates him from his contemporaries. As is to be expected from Linklater's work, there is a great soundtrack in there, with Brian Eno, Gary Numan, Devo, Van Halen, Queen, Pink Floyd, Hot Chocolate, Blondie, Frank Zappa, ZZ Top and our very own Stiff Little Fingers making timely and appropriate appearances. It's also a very good-looking film, with Shane F. Kelly giving the film a glossy glow which highlights the retro/nostalgic feel that they are trying to go for. Finally, Linklater as a director is someone who directs with passion, trying to give distinction in some way to each of his films while they still most definitely have a recurring beat that is one of his own.
That being said, there are a number of things that I think deny this the status of being a great movie. Namely, I feel that while Linklater's script is solid when it comes to dialogue and characters, when it comes to plot it comes across as old-hat. I don't mean old-hat as in I've seen in before in Linklater films, which I suppose I have, but more that the story itself doesn't head in any new directions. There are no new revelations, things that I don't already know. I didn't feel I came out enlightened the way I did with a number of his other works, or that there was any great emotional resonance to the piece. Also, Sandra Adair, normally a great editor, I feel could have flexed some of that muscle and ironed out the folds a little more. At nearly two hours, it's too long, and I know I sound like a broken record on this one, but one hundred minutes didn't create much bother for Linklater with some his earlier films.
In conclusion, I feel that Everybody Wants Some!!, while lacking the emotional resonance or succinct fine-tuning of Linklater's best work, is still a worthy work. The ensemble cast was strong, I think that Linklater has an ear for dialogue and an innate understanding of how to turn tropes into legitimate characters, there is a terrific soundtrack, the film is well-shot and Linklater is someone who directs with passion. Even a second-rate Richard Linklater film is still going to be at the very least a very good film.
The Thin White Dude's Prognosis - 7.8/10
The Thin White Dude's Self-Diagnosis - Tired (should really be letting my mind rest, but what the hey!)