The poignancy associated with nostalgia is an interesting phenomenon for me. It induces a feeling that I can only describe as temporary elation interspersed with downright melancholy. Although this strange pull in opposite directions is unsettling, an appreciation for life, the souls that we are bound to, and the memories we are blessed with always prevails.
Linklater’s new Everybody Wants Some!! (labeled as the spirit sequel to Dazed and Confused) unexpectedly offers that appreciation. For a picture that veered away from the traditional Hollywood plot-line (in that it didn’t really seem to have one), the entertainment was constant throughout the entire movie. It was a picture that did not require a conventional plot, because the events leading up to the first day of class in a baseball house off campus is more than enough to make a great movie. In fact, the first thing I said to my partner after leaving Lincoln Square was, “Wow. What a nice ride that was.”And I found that the more we exchanged our thoughts and feelings about the picture, the more in love with it I became as we peeled back its layers and found it breathing and changing into several distinct portrayals of finding oneself, athleticism, nostalgia, and young men in their most biologically fundamental form: spreading their bountiful seed and competing in all things physical.
What a foreign feeling for me, an admiration for jocks. Because the Linklater jock isn’t the jock you see just about everywhere else. The Linklater jock is just as horny and bursting at the seams with testosterone as all of the others, but they’re also insanely witty, charming, and easygoing. No one in this movie is ever unapologetically an asshole or overtly cruel. I think this is also owed to the portrayal of women in the picture. Although the baseball team is exploiting their popularity to get laid, the women are not strangers to this game. They are seen floating from jock to jock throughout the movie instead of being coerced into something that they think will be exclusive. While Jake (Blake Jenner) excuses himself from his date so he can free up his room upstairs, she inevitably floats into the arms of another one of his teammates. But there are also women seen not batting an eye to the jocks’ advances. It's an even playing field.
And they all pick on each other. It’s just men being men--competitive by nature and fighting for who has got the most brawn. Everyone is just having a good time. No hard feelings.
Then there’s the baseball tugging at my heartstrings. It seems that in the past ten years everyone’s attention span has changed to that of a goldfish. With that, baseball has gone from being revered as America’s greatest pastime to a game too long and boring to sit through. Perhaps I am partial to baseball having grown up in Dominican Republic. So my biased opinion is that, unlike contact sports that offer entertainment by operating at a high intensity 95% of the time, it is just a little more mature. It’s not loud. It does not ride on testosterone. It requires the patience and respect of not only the players, but also the fans. And those fans understand the idiosyncrasies of each position as well as the hard work that is put into molding those specific players. It is for these reasons that baseball is that much more attractive. Similar to the way that Beverly (Zoey Deutch) liked, “the quiet guy in the back seat,” instead of the rest of the guys in the car hollering at her and her friend like a pack of dogs. It was also nice to see that gratitude for the sport on the big screen; a bunch of guys talking about why pitchers are weird, their superstitions about lucky batting helmets, the scout that watches their practices in disguise, and how, above all, voluntary practice is mandatory. We need more pictures about baseball.
It brought me back to a time when playing an organized sport was the thing in my life. Back when I didn’t have a job and all life was about was school, softball, and sharing the bus with the baseball team to our respective games. These guys are all aware that they will probably never go pro. And that what they’ve got is right now, these four years as college jocks. They go to school for free to do something they absolutely love and get showered with admiration in the form of playful advances from beautiful women before they go off into the real world of nine to fives, marriage, and arthritis. What more could a college kid want?
Then there’s the competition. From flicking knuckles to slicing baseballs in half with an ax, the matches are endless. Comical as it may be (for a woman, at least) to see such farcical displays of machismo, the accuracy and lighthearted tackling of the “manhood” topic is nothing shy of beautiful. A guy goes into a fit of rage for losing a casual game of table tennis and his teammates can do nothing but laugh as he hurls the paddle at his opponent with force. No one is a stranger to the anger that comes with losing in this house. Ten minutes later, they are on to talking about baseball and the universe over a few bong hits.
One doesn’t have to have lived through the 80's to feel nostalgia at experiencing Everybody Wants Some!! No matter what decade, we all have those golden years where we are free to stumble through the bewildering path into adulthood. Where the cheap beer games, keg stands, and jungle juice are in the foreground of every celebration, where good decisions are hard to come by, and where the thought of any of that coming to an end is tormenting enough to make you want to keep plowing through it just as you have been.