Monday, August 29, 2016

You May Think You Want Some, But Believe Me: You Don't

Writer-director Richard Linklater built up an enormous supply of goodwill from me with the outstanding Before trilogy (Before Sunrise, Before Sunset, and Before Midnight). I loved those movies enough to take the bad (Fast Food Nation) along with the good (Boyhood), and pretty much give anything Linklater makes a shot. But my goodwill was exhausted when I sat down to watch his newest movie, Everybody Wants Some!! (With two exclamation points, which I'm going to drop for the rest of this review.)

This movie has been billed as something of a spiritual successor to Dazed and Confused, and was dubbed by Linklater himself as a sort-of sequel to Boyhood (as it begins where that film ends -- with a young man arriving at college). This movie follows freshman Jake as he tries to settle in at college before the first day of class, socializing with the teammates on his new baseball team. And of course, as the title suggests, chasing sex.

I couldn't even finish watching this aimless two hours. Nothing coalesced that resembled a plot. No stakes or complications appeared. And while some have made a similar criticism of Boyhood (that the film is less a narrative than a series of events), that movie at least had a major advantage over this one. I'm not even talking about the inventive way in which Boyhood was filmed over the course of 12 years, I'm talking about something far more fundamental to a movie: compelling characters. Everybody Wants Some is stacked top to bottom with shallow, unlikable jocks. Every character is the same character -- a showboating, carefree cad who neither exhibits nor elicits sympathy.

It's hard to even get behind this movie as an extension of any kind to Dazed and Confused. This is not a movie that does for the 80s what that film did for the 70s. Everybody Wants Some is set in 1980, so the world we're shown hasn't really moved on from Dazed and Confused. Synth-pop has not yet dethroned disco. Neon has not yet replaced bell-bottoms. If you're looking for another dose of the nostalgic rush you got watching Stranger Things, don't bother. Indeed, this movie isn't different from Dazed and Confused, it's like Dazed and Confused on steroids -- every single character is Matthew McConaughey.

I looked online for a plot summary, just to see if I'd missed something here by bailing before the halfway point. But every synopsis was as meandering as the part of the movie I saw, reading like a four-year-old telling a story: "This happened... and then this happened... and then this happened..." (Um... cute, but are you going anywhere with this?) My brief research only confirmed my takeaway: Everybody Wants Some is weaponized crap.

As one of only 5 to 10 movies I failed to finish in my entire life, I can only give it an F. Avoid at all costs.

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