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.

Dear White People Review

It’s a sad fact that the black community is severely underrepresented in Hollywood and filmmaking. With only old hats like Spike Lee and Tyler Perry being said to market the majority of their films to the black community, it falls to a new generation of black filmmakers to make movies for the underrepresented. Does Dear White People start a new trend of catering to the target demographic?

Dear White People stars Tyler James Williams, Tessa Thompson, Brandon Bell and Dennis Hasybert and is written, produced and directed by Justin Simien. The story follows Sam White (Thompson) at Winchester University, where her radio show “Dear White People” starts to raise race tensions amongst the students and the staff.

First off, Dear White People is one of the newest and funniest films I’ve seen this year. Don’t be fooled, it’s not a haha, laugh-out-loud funny. Instead it is a deeply smart and commentary, steeped in pop culture and referencing recent racially insensitive media events. As a film student I got most enjoyment from the repeated jokes about film, with small conversations devoted to what can be considered a “black” film, aversions to Tarantino, a sly updating of the racist 1916 film Birth Of A Nation and a comparison of the film Gremlins to black culture. It’s a film that knows it’s history and how blacks were once and sometimes still are portrayed in mass media and sets out to change it.

While being a film mainly about race and racism, Dear White People picks up on a few more hot topics, including homophobia, class divides and nepotism. While the film sometimes isn’t able to fully flesh out these stories and instead goes into a small amount of clichés and caricatures (and including one that goes absolutely nowhere apart from one extra scene), the majority of the other themes are resoundingly brought in and out of the film expertly. These four themes each have their own central character and worldview and the film seamlessly switches between them all, and in the end manages to bring them all together for a third act finale which is actually inspired by true events, showcasing the ugly underside of racism that is still around today.

The film is not without it’s problems though. While the film is around the one hour fifty minutes mark (which is around the average length of a film in the 2010s), Dear White People for some reason feels a tad too over long and drawn out. There could be a number of reasons why the film feels overlong, but I think it just comes down to the film getting pulled around by many different characters. For example around the halfway point we start spending more time in the film with side characters that really aren’t anything more than a walking point-of-view, a symbolic representation of an argument or debate. This makes some of the characters look like 2D cardboard cutouts next to the main leads of the film, who actually have more rounded personalities and conflicting ideals. Another problem I had with Dear White People was the ending. While I understand it’s meaning and what the film was trying to say in it’s final few scenes, I did feel that it was rather hollow and tacked on, a forced “happy ending” that seemed to negate an earlier character arc and argument.

In summary, Dear White People is a refreshing film from a promising new director. It’s a film that manages to be ABOUT something and explores those issues, rather than being superficial like most other films that are based on a taboo subject. This is definitely not one to miss.

Score: 7/10 An intelligent, funny and sharp new voice in film.