Reel Change on “Everybody”

I liked Richard Linklater’s “Everybody Wants Some!!” so much I wrote about it twice. First, there was my review in Washington City Paper. My editor challenged me to draw some connections between the film and “Born to be Blue,” a biopic of jazz trumpeter Chet Baker that was released the same day. I did my best. Here’s a snippet:

“Richard Linklater and Ethan Hawke each have a new film opening this week. Surprisingly, they’re not the same one. The director and actor have collaborated on eight projects—including the critically acclaimed Before trilogy—but their latest efforts show that an artist can thrive without his muse, and vice versa. Everybody Wants Some!! and Born to Be Blue examine themes present in Linklater and Hawke’s prior efforts—the tension between potential and achievement, art and competition—but from entirely different angles. One is a breezy comedy with Zen-like wisdom, the other is a stormy biopic that challenges the conventions of its genre. Both are unquestionably great.”

You can read the full double review here.

One element of “Everybody Wants Some!!” kept gnawing at me after I saw the film. This was more than a simple party movie. Underlying the lead characters’ lust for booze, baseball, and boobs was an inclusive political philosophy that runs counter to the tribal spirit that seems to dominate our contemporary political discourse. I explored this idea further in a piece for The Guardian:

“Linklater’s script drops life lessons into the proceedings, bits of bro-Zen wisdom like “Embrace your inner weird, man!” and “We all take turns being chumps. You just have to accept your chumpification and pass it on.” It’s easy to breeze over these aphorisms, but they dovetail effectively with the film’s political resonance. They ask us to let down our defenses and experience life with an open mind and heart.

Most political pundits – and anyone with even a cursory knowledge of our political discourse – recognize that our country has fallen victim to tribalism. We are geographically self-sorting into areas where people of similar races and income levels reside; we only watch the cable news station that aligns with our political perspective; we carefully curate our social media feeds to exclude those people who disagree with us; and when someone offers us a political perspective we don’t understand, we too often shut them out rather than truly consider their point of view. This is the cause, not the symptom, of our political divisiveness, and it’s quickly getting to the point where we rarely meet someone who differs from us in any fundamental way.

‘Everybody Wants Some!!’ shows college life, when properly lived, as an ideal antidote to that ethos. It asks us to remember a time not too long ago when jocks could hang with nerds, nerds could hang with punks, and punks could hang with rednecks. When we could put aside our differences, as long as the beer was cold.”

Check out the full article here, and if you’re feeling generous, share it with your friends. Also, go see these movies!

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