It’s fair to say that 2016 has been a tough year. The stakes have been high on and off the screen and, suffice to say, we have been burdened with disappointing results in both arenas. After blockbusters opened to critical and commercial maelstroms and the political landscape of the Western world was being thrown into a state of flux, it seemed that 2016 was in dire need of an antidote. Step up, Everybody Wants Some!!, the most joyfully unabashed, euphoric film-going experience of the year. The films of Richard Linklater have (nearly) always had the capacity to be tonics for the world and while Everybody Wants Some!! probably won’t go down as his masterpiece, it will take only the most hardened of viewers to resist the feeling that perhaps it should.
For all its formal brilliance Linklater’s last film, Boyhood, wasn’t the easiest to love. While the film’s loose structure, androcentrism, and hefty running time proved testing for some, it was nevertheless an intimate and epic study of the trials of youth and the passing of time. Linklater pulled gently at the threads of boyhood to find, locked into the finer details of a life unfolding, all the small and beautiful things that give it meaning. Rather than find himself constricted by the need to provide a conventional film narrative, the writer-director instead chose to let Boyhood play out in (almost) real time and, through that method, managed to capture and convey the incidental fragments of childhood that provide the foundations for our adult selves. There is no questioning Boyhood’s brilliance – it will likely come to be regarded as Linklater’s magnum opus if it hasn’t already been awarded that honour – but, form aside, it really stands as just another entanglement with themes that have coloured the Texan auteur’s entire career. Despite Boyhood’s acclaim however, Everybody Wants Some!! arguably offers Linklater’s most confident and convincing thesis on growing up to date.
Tonally, Everybody Wants Some!! is the antithesis of Boyhood. Where Boyhood was underscored by a melancholic ache, Everybody Wants Some!! is a monument to youth’s ecstasy. In fact, it’s apt to describe the experience of watching the film as one of pure joy. Structurally, the same is true. Where Boyhood confronted the passage of time across 12 key moments in a young boy’s life, Everybody Wants Some!! bathes in the alcohol-singed glory of time’s ephemerality. Philosophically speaking, the same is true once again. Without meaning to sound reductive, Boyhood’s message was (perhaps purposefully) less clear and not nearly as revelatory or humanistic as Everybody Wants Some!!’s. With a tagline that reads “Here for a good time. Not a long time”, Everybody Wants Some!! proposes that even the most outwardly hedonistic pursuits offer a perfectly acceptable basis for finding meaning in life. Caught at a moment in their lives when they have the luxury of being unburdened of all responsibility, the focal group of young college baseball players come to reflect and comment on the ways in which we develop a tendency to complicate the meaning of our existences. Sometimes, the film argues, it’s fine to be 18, to want to play baseball, drink light beer, and, try as one might, get laid. With its eyes open wide to the pure thrill of being on the cusp of adulthood, Everybody Wants Some!! dares to suggest that sometimes such a philosophy is alright, alright, alright.
Like Dazed and Confused, the spiritual forebear of Everybody Wants Some!!, Linklater’s latest plays out over a short period of time – three days, this time, as opposed to Dazed’s single day. Instead of hanging around long enough to see the weight of real-world responsibility bear down slowly and crushingly upon his characters, Linklater revels in the dizzying energy of those weekends that we all look back upon most fondly. It may all seem too cool to be true, but that’s part of the point that Linklater’s making; we live to enshrine and cherish our past, but to do so we must cherish the present first of all. With the spirit of carpe diem emblazoned across every scene, Linklater emboldens his characters to seize the day and truly live for the moment. As the highs morph into hangovers and the weekend comes to an end, the great wisdom of the film slowly emerges from the deceptive shadow of its seeming pointlessness. Linklater, filmmaker, challenges us to reflect nostalgically upon the fate and significance of such moments as we grow up. Linklater, philosopher, asks us to reflect on the memories that we most desperately hold on to; the memories of moments such as these glow in our hearts throughout our lives, the warming embers that fire our spirits. Rather than crowbar in some ghastly, moralising message about coming to terms with responsibility, Linklater lets fun have its day; in doing this, he encourages us to look back across our own lives and consider all of the little things, people, and moments that gave it meaning.
Much like the weekend around which the film is set, Everybody Wants Some!! is a film to be enjoyed on it own terms – in the moment if you will – naive of the power that it will come to have over you. Days later, you’ll find yourself reflecting on it (and, subsequently, your own life) and you’ll have no choice but to smile. Everybody Wants Some!! is a film that sneaks up on you as it wraps itself around you like the big, warm hug of a film that it so clearly is. The film’s greatness lies in its simplicity, its subtlety, and its profound wisdom. If Everybody Wants Some!! opens on a bunch of kids strutting into college thinking that they know where it’s all at then it ends on their collective, dawning realisation that they really knew fuck all to begin with. To the film’s credit, this is not a crushing revelation, it’s a liberating one; it captures the moment at which the world expands before you to reveal the infinite possible futures that it has to offer. In sum: Everybody Want Some!! is an understated masterpiece and one of the very best films of 2016.
So to recap, here’s our Top 20 to 10…
N.B. As our site is UK based, we work off the selection of films released in cinemas in the UK in 2016
20 – The Witch
19= Son of Saul
19= The Hateful Eight
18 – Midnight Special
17 – American Honey
16= Embrace of the Serpent
16= Captain America: Civil War
15 – Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
14 – Creed
13 – Hail, Caesar!
12 – The Revenant
11 – Weiner
10 – Everybody Wants Some!!
Stay tuned each and every day for the remainder of 2016 to read more on our Top 10 films of 2016!