Despite the surfeit of punctuation, Everybody Wants Some!! poses the greatest imponderable, a truly twenty first century conundrum: just exactly what was acceptable in the eighties? Answers on a postcard please, Mr Harris.
It transpires to be absolutely anything…Semi-clothed women mud wrestling in the porch, butt-cheeks in the cloakroom, sharking in parking lots. The lot of the strapping jock. And don’t forget the jock straps, too. These are baseball players, after all.
2014 Academy Award nominated director, Richard Linklater has ironed out the heavy, existential stuff from his adolescent caper, Boyhood, retaining the retro aesthetic to make a lighter, jovial flick of a film that laughs loud. Set in 1980, we follow the 72 hours or so before class starts in a chart of hedonistic laddism to surpass any Hangover related idiocy.
In a generic Texas college campus, quite simply anything goes as we arrive in town with new freshman pitcher, Jake (Blake Jenner). The ‘baseball house’ is a new invention to allay the housing crisis on campus. But putting all these elite athletes together is the surest recipe for disaster, despite coach outlining a totalitarian ‘no girls’ and ‘no alcohol’ policy. You guessed it, cue alcohol fuelled chasing of girls for the remainder of the film’s almost two hour running time.
Linklater, the director of realtime romantic dramas (the Before saga) cannot forego the opportunity to make this film, in essence, a college boy meets college girl love affair, but a whole lot happens besides. And not just bedside. The all-male environ is a treasure trove of comedic potential. Linklater produces a rare, heterogenous take on the often single track perspective with which we takedown the ‘Jock’, ‘Lad’, ‘All the Boys’, all male bonding that is mocked by everyone outside of the clique, clan or tribe.
Anyone wondering whether ‘laddism’, the luddite bane that plagues the university community today, is a new phenomenon needs to watch this film. It is nothing new, the mixture of explicit sexism, rape culture and jokey homo-erotic fraternity is an age-old collectivisation dawning with time itself. But the only dinosaurs in 1980 are our disco dwelling, country rocking, hardcore moshing baseball players, who have no other ambition but to pull the pussy their privileged position demands. Flexibility in identity, especially falsity, is the best way.
But there are many different means to meet this particular ends. A particular favourite has to be the winning approach of the most likeable among the troupe, played by an almost unrecognisably ginger, moustachioed Glen Powell. Finnegan takes a very different approach to acquiring potential bedmates, opting out of the race-to-the-bottom cock comparison and competition of his intellectual inferiors and deciding, instead, to ‘speak the language’ of his target audience. As such, he turns out to be a Kerouac reading, general dilettante, with a smarmy, duplicitous loquacity that becomes infectious and, in some ways, the most honest style of all.
Finnegan is the most meta of the males, understanding their position within society in terms including ‘dipshitification’ and ‘fuckwithery’, highlighting that lads do indeed need to coin a new language in order to encapsulate their own inanities. But Linklater’s artistry lies in lulling us and making us actually care about these narcissistic, awful people, who, in truth, the majority love to hate. Although we might want to hate, the effortlessness of the hilarious script skilfully indoctrinates us into the ideology of the clan, by the simple means of making us laugh. Laughter is complicity. We come down to their level. But Linklater has made laddism an accomplished art form to induce us to laugh both at and with those onscreen.
Perhaps there lies the message to the boys that blight universities today with their masquerade of masculinity and ethanol-induced hooliganism. The ability to laugh at yourself. Like David Cameron, the boys often seem unable to find themselves funny. To take a step back and realise the full farce of their inflated sense of self, simply because their biceps are as big as bisons, they have trees for legs or they can drink themselves to death faster than a champagne cork popping in a private pool. Please, let’s not take ourselves too seriously. And one thing our time travelling director can showcase is that there was nothing serous about being young, dumb and drunk in 1980.
Image Courtesy of BagoGames via flickr.