As long as my father retains 8mm footage of me playing first base in the Mount Holly Little League championship of 1967, “Everybody Wants Some!!” will never be the most inconsequential film made about baseball players.
But it’s a close second.
Writer-director Richard Linklater, whose career has ranged from the amusing “Dazed and Confused” to the meditative “Boyhood,” gives us his most disposable movie with this look at college ballplayers in the summer of 1980.
For four days before classes begin at Southwest Texas University, they drink, smoke dope, dance, pursue and score with coeds, and utter the kind of babble that sounds philosophic to certain college students and nobody else: “Things only mean as much as the meaningfulness we allow them to have.”
After about 90 minutes of this mildly funny and otherwise useless meandering, freshman pitcher Jake (Blake Jenner) strikes up a romance with freshman theater student Beverly (Zoey Deutch). We become invested in them just about the time the final credits roll.
Otherwise, Linklater populates the picture with weirdos whose sole possible attraction is weirdness: A pitcher with bizarre mound routines, a contemplative stoner, a mustachioed buffoon who loses every bet he makes, a Southern rube who thinks his girlfriend must be pregnant because her period is a day late.
You can’t call this a coming-of-age film, because none of the characters changes; how could they, in so short a span? (Even Jake’s romantic epiphany doesn’t alter him.) You can’t argue that it shows us how college kids really are, as every character is reduced to a stereotype or a joke. All the jocks but Jake are boozy, boastful horndogs who embrace their ignorance; all the theater types but Beverly are snooty poseurs.
Linklater has called this a “spiritual sequel” to “Dazed,” but that film had more on its mind. As those high schoolers looked into the future, some were about to soar, some were aware that their lives had already peaked, and some looked blankly at a big frightening world they were about to enter without a clue.
Here, the players treat college as a joke or a job, something they have to attend – taking the least challenging classes possible – in order to keep their scholarship and, perhaps, play pro ball someday. They exert themselves only below the waist or when playing childish pranks.
The movie has been shot, obviously intentionally, to look as cheap as possible: flat lighting, slack editing, even yellow titles that could have come from a 1970s porn film. If this project is some kind of huge in-joke, I’m willing to admit I didn’t get it. But if I did get it (and I’m afraid I did), it’s a huge disappointment.
‘Everybody Wants Some!!’
Cast: Blake Jenner, Zoey Deutch, Glen Powell.
Writer-Director: Richard Linklater.
Length: 117 minutes.
Rating: R (language throughout, sexual content, drug use and some nudity).