Everybody Wants Some!! Review

Richard Linklater is an incredibly ambitious director. Just look at his filmography; Boyhood, which was filmed over twelve years, the Before trilogy that did a similar thing to Boyhood but over eighteen years, or even School Of Rock which placed several untested child actors to the front of the film. Now, Linklaters’s back to his college roots, after his first college-set film Dazed And Confused with Everybody Wants Some!!. 

Everybody Wants Some!! stars Blake Jenner, Zoey Deutch, Glen Powell and Ryan Guzman and is written and directed by Richard Linklater. The film follows the baseball team at a Texas college in 1970s in the three days before term starts.

The film cast are mainly unknowns or just starting into their careers. I liked this a lot in Everybody Wants Some!!. A few films I get pulled out of the experience because the actor isn’t being the part (Jennifer Lawrence in X-Men) but here, like in a lot of Linklater’s films, it just feels like we are watching real people just talk with each other. The film is set in the few days before term actually starts, so we several scenes of the characters getting to know each other and bonding over drinks and dancing in clubs without the film having to stop while the characters all go to class. The very last shot is of two of the characters sitting down for their first ever university class and promptly falling asleep.

The characters are your stereotypical Linklater types; the main character (who has no definition apart from being the one who we are meant to sympathise with), the lovable rogue, the not-so lovable rogue and the girl. Even the characters realise how stock they are. After bouncing around from a disco to a Western-themed barn dance, to a punk concert and then to an Arts event, the main character Jake remarks to his friend Finnegan that they’ve managed to swap between parties so well because they have no characteristics. While every film set in a fraternity has a debt to the seminal Animal House, Everybody Wants Some!! works by getting away from the tired college stereotypes or the frats and the nerds by all the characters being on the baseball team.

The script, written by Linklater, is his usual blend of humour spliced with moments of deeper meaning as the characters have conversations about their lives and the responsibilities while growing up. At the beginning of the film the jokes come at a fast rate and are very memorable; a sequence where the guys all drive down to the bar and on the way start to sing the song that comes on the radio. The scene plays for nearly the entirety of the song and it just keeps getting funnier as it plays. The jokes start to fall away after the midway point of the film as we get to know the characters more and rivalry and tantrums start to break out between the teammates. I was worried while watching that it was going to descend into the classic narrative of the break-up/make-up trope but luckily the divides are quickly patched over and aren’t left hanging for any amount of time.

I ended up liking Everybody Wants Some!! more than I thought I would. I’m not even a big Linklater fan, I guess I just have a sweet spot for films set in university/college because I am in university at the time of writing. That’s why I loved Ocean Waves and Animal House so much. I think Everybody Wants Some!! will be the new version of Dazed And Confused, it will be THE college film for a new generation, myself included.

To conclude, Everybody Wants Some!! is a fun ride back into the college years of the 1970s. While it isn’t Linklater’s best film, it still holds up as being one of the funniest of 2016 so far.

Score: 8/10 Funny and timeless, it’s standard Linklater.

Sisters Review

Sisters looks like it’s going to be the comedy of the season. It’s written by funny people (Paula Pell from SNL), directed by funny people (Jason Moore from Pitch Perfect) and stars funny people (Tina Fey and Amy Poehler). So, does it stand up to its pedigree?

 Sisters stars Amy Poehler, Tina Fey, Maya Rudolph, John Leguizamo, Ike Barinholtz and John Cena and is directed by Jason Moore. The film follows sisters Katie (Fey) and Maura (Poehler) as they return to their childhood home to throw one last party.

First off, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler are great. The two actresses have amazing chemistry and are able to bounce well off each other throughout the entire film. The film works well when it sits back and we watch them try and catch their long lost childhood by reading their old diaries or dancing around to 80s classics. The funniest lines are the small one-liners that look they were just ad-libbed, with the rest of the script being rather witless.

That’s not to say that there aren’t some good jokes. John Cena, in his second comedy role this year, knocks it out of the park as drug-seller Pazuzu. His introductory scene, where he lists off the different drugs that he has to sell is incredibly funny. For the rest of the film he remains virtually silent, towering over the rest of the guests and throwing out death-stares to anyone who tries to talk to him, but whenever he does open his mouth, he usually has an excellent one-liner. Another good sequence in the film involves Maura’s childhood music box and a local heartthrob, James (Barinholtz) who Maura invites to the party. While the base of the joke is rather puerile, Poehler and Barinholtz manage to keep the remnant of a good joke together, although it ends rather abruptly, before leaving the film and it’s implications at the door.

The main problem is that Sisters is trying to hit so many film party staples. The BBFC lists the films as having “very strong language, strong sex references and drug use”, and while it does feature copious amounts of all three, none of them feel as good as other films that did it better or did it first. The obvious comparison is with Animal House, but there are other nods such as 21 And Over and Bad Neighbours. The film is at it’s best when it’s subverting the tropes in these films (the main difference is that all the party attendees are safely into middle age) but sadly Sisters just seems content with aping every other party film. I’m certain you could cut the montage moments from Sisters and switch them with the ones from 21 And Over and no-one would be able to see the difference.

The film builds and builds over the ridiculously long running time, but it doesn’t have the brains to keep up. Soon into the party phase, the film just goes over-board, throwing situations out and hoping one of them will get a laugh. It gets to a low point with an incongruous Scarface reference and wanton destruction that just feels really forced. Sisters tries and keeps the audience laughing by giving every character a bucketful of swear words in between the set pieces, but these soon just turn into childish attempts to seem adult. Swearing does not make a film mature. It only makes a joke funny by the set-up; randomly shouting out rude words won’t get many laughs beyond the first couple.

In summary, Sisters had a good line-up of talented people, but the script really brings down the end product. There are some good moments and jokes but not enough of them to make it a worthy watch.

Score: 5/10 Tina Fey and Amy Poehler have done much better comedy.