“Things are only as meaningful as the meaning that we allow them to have.” ~ Beverly
How can Sisyphus and baseball be connected? Budding lovebirds Jake (Blake Jenner) and Beverly (Zoey Deutch) tackle this question as they float contentedly in inter-tubes with college just beginning. Sisyphus is, of course, the mythical figure who tragically spent his entire existence pushing a boulder up a hill. How does that relate to baseball? Just like anything, if it becomes our sole focus, it takes on immense meaning. Looking at it one way or another it can either be seen as a blessing, a curse, a chance at a singular purpose or even an obsession. But without question, each individual person has a chance to latch onto what they find meaning in as they float through life fluctuating between contentedness and discontentedness. That’s not only what college but, what life in general, is all about.
But that’s enough waxing philosophical because as Richard Linklater has the penchant for doing, Everybody Wants Some is a romanticized, idyllic visual collage, of what it is to be in college, what it is to be a baseball player, what it was like to do all those things in the 1980s. Some will look at it disinterested because it seems to be a pretty narrow lens but as we already acknowledged, Linklater’s films always carry a fondness for their subjects — oftentimes capturing moments, little snapshots of time and space, the building blocks of life really.
We can even look at Richard Linklater, his past, his pedigree and there’s no doubt that this is another meaningful film for him. For some, there will be a similar meaningfulness to this time capsule of his. However, even for those who are not quite sold, there’s something deeply personal and heartfelt about his work that’s hard to take away from him. In that respect, his work is always universal.
In truth, Linklater follows in the tradition of many of the great European filmmakers where plot is certainly not king. Because anything in screenwriting 101 or out of the Hollywood milieu emphatically declares that conflict is key. Watch most anything from the Texas native and the normal plot conventions go out the window since that’s not where his interest lies. And yet Everybody Wants Some still remains diverting during its entire run.
It follows in the footsteps of Dazed & Confused over 20 years its elder and it’s a film similarly ripping at the seams with song and dance. It’s another one of the vignette movies basking in nostalgia whether it’s Van Halen, Twilight Zone anecdotes, Gilligan Island punk music or any number of other things. These boys spend, not the last night after high school, but the waning days before college sitting around their house talking about who knows what, getting sky high, hitting golf balls off rooftops and taking part in endless competitions in ping pong, knuckles and anything else that can be needlessly turned into a game.
But to a lesser extent, Linklater’s latest film also has ties to Boyhood because although it might take place decades before, it picks up where the other film left off. It’s easy to forget but a big part of Everybody Wants Some!! is about a boy meeting a girl in the first days of college.
There’s still so much to be done and the film only briefly brushes on what it means to be in college but that’s not its main objective. Anyone who has played sports or went to college can identify with the camaraderie of being part of a team or the elation of all the excitement laid out in front of you the next four years.
Everybody Wants Some!! uses the typical Supers on screen to denote the countdown until reality hits and school and sports begin for real. There’s a brevity to the moment that this film captures. Sure, in many ways, it’s filled with raunchiness and raucous fun but it also signifies a carefreeness that is very rarely realized at any other time in your life. It brings to mind one of the ballplayers Willoughby. It comes out that he faked his transcripts and is actually well over the playing age. Why would he do such a thing? We would think it’s for some competitive advantage, but no, he just wanted to prolong this little piece of paradise. Partying and playing baseball with the world as your oyster.
Because whereas this is the beginning for some like Jake, it’s also nearing the end for others. That’s the scariness and in some senses the beauty of life. All of us are walking along our own roads like passing ships in the night but that does not mean we have to go it alone. The key is finding community and honing onto a purpose that gives our lives meaning. We have to live for the moment because those moments are transient and before you know them, they’ll be gone. Make the most of them. Enjoy them. This year as well as next.