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  Everybody Wants Some!! Play Ball
Year: 2016
Director: Richard Linklater
Stars: Blake Jenner, Juston Street, Ryan Guzman, Tyler Hoechlin, Wyatt Russell, Glen Powell, Temple Baker, J. Quinton Johnson, Will Brittain, Zoey Deutch, Austin Amelio, Tanner Kalina, Forrest Vickery, Jonathan Breck, Michael Monsour, Tory Taranova
Genre: Comedy, DramaBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Jake (Blake Jenner) is a freshman at this Southern college, or at least he will be in three days, first he has to acclimatise himself to his surroundings and that means getting to know his fellow housemates in the place that has been set aside for them to stay now that there is a lack of accommodation for them. Once he has pulled into the driveway in his car, box full of records and his player in the back seat, he wanders inside where there doesn't appear to be anyone around, though there are noises from upstairs and a hosepipe leading from the yard to one of the bedrooms. He doesn't know what that’s for, but he does know it's causing great strain on the ceiling of the kitchen, which leads two of the housemates to rush down and investigate - cue the introductions.

Writer and director Richard Linklater followed up his Oscar-winning Boyhood with a work that was intended as a spiritual successor to both that and his nineties cult movie Dazed and Confused, but the results were not afforded the same warm welcome, as it turned out. While all the signs were that Everybody Wants Some!! was headed for at least a cult following too, it was not going to be anywhere near as inclusive or influential as his epic hangout movie from twenty years before, despite being very much in the same vein, and that appeared to be down to the spirit of the times it was released in. In 2016, the weight given to the stories of young, white, straight men were far less fashionable than they had ever been before.

No matter that they were often the target audience for the blockbusters, if you were aiming your indie movie at them, no matter how nostalgic it was, it seemed you were not going to garner the audience you wanted, nor many outside parties who might take an interest. Indeed, many found these young men obnoxious and not worth spending two hours with at all with their sexist attitudes and narrow-minded view of the world that was revolving around themselves, as far as they could possibly discern. Linklater protested he was merely depicting them precisely as he remembered them, and admitted he had been in their position all those years ago, so he was recreating 1980 with pinpoint accuracy.

Quite what the point was for doing so was lost on many audiences, which in effect had a film made almost exclusively for Linklater, as if he was refilming his old home movies. The Jake character was his surrogate, a baseball student who would in time find his horizons broadening to embrace the arts, which was how he set himself on that path to becoming a major director, but there was not a huge amount of that cultural awakening here as most of it was simply spending the three days in the run-up to classes with these boys commencing by partying and relaxing, sometimes simultaneously. Occasionally there was a spot of insight from the characters, but nothing to prompt them into turning utterly self-aware, just intermittently identifying their behaviour as akin to play-fighting puppies extending their teenage years for as long as they could.

That feeling that these people were about to have a rude awakening when that revelation they were not the most important folks on the planet was definitely present, but Linklater did not labour it as scenes alternated between them going out to discos and bars, then chilling, sometimes with recreational drink and drugs, sometimes with the opposite sex. Some complained the females were severely underrepresented, though late on there was Zoey Deutch as the girl Jake starts to fall for which lent him a degree of depth the others did not enjoy, and little wonder when the director was sentimentalising his adopting of the arts as the most important thing in his life, replacing sports as his great love, so she was as much representational as she was a three-dimensional person. There were funny moments, but a monotony set in early on, always a danger when presenting shallow characters, even if there was a hint our perspective from decades hence was seeing them for what they were. So not a total bust, but a shade too much like hearing some old guy reminiscing about his youth to mostly his own entertainment. The soundtrack of vintage tunes must have cost half the budget.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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Richard Linklater  (1960 - )

Skilled indie director, specialising in dialogue-driven comedy-drama. Linklater's 1989 debut Slacker was an unusual but well-realised portrait of disaffected 20-something life in his home town of Austin, Texas, while many consider Dazed and Confused, his warm but unsentimental snapshot of mid-70s youth culture, to be one of the best teen movies ever made. Linklater's first stab at the mainstream - comedy western The Newton Boys - was a disappointment, but Before Sunrise, SubUrbia, Tape and the animated Waking Life are all intelligent, intriguing pictures.

Scored a big hit with mainstream comedy School of Rock, and reunited with Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy for the acclaimed sequels Before Sunset and Before Midnight. The Bad News Bears was a weak comedy remake, but Linklater bounced back with the animated Philip K. Dick adaptation A Scanner Darkly, junk food industry satire Fast Food Nation and true life murder tale Bernie. His intimate epic Boyhood, filmed over twelve years, earned him some of the most acclaim of his career. The nostalgic follow-up Everybody Wants Some!! was less of a hit.

 
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