The Game

Texas. Baseball. 1980. It doesn’t matter. Richard Linklater’s Everybody Wants Some feels like watching a home movie.

In the same way that you could relate to Boyhood if you’ve ever been a child or to the Before trilogy if you’ve ever been in a relationship, you can relate to this film if you grew up with any trace of competitiveness in your bones.

 

If ever there was an American film maker moving to the beat of his own drummer, it’s Linklater.

The only other artists that remind me of his storytelling style are Henry Miller (stream of consciousness novelist) and the late Polish director Krzysztof Kieślowski.

Incidentally, Julie Delpy features in both Linklater’s 3 Before films and Keislowski’s moody French trilogy, Trois couleurs.

HAVE I SEEN YOU BEFORE?

Funnily enough, it wasn’t until Before Midnight and Boyhood that the mainstream started to take notice.

In the era of the blockbuster and franchise movie (Avengers, Hangover 1-3), it’s amazing that a 2 1/2 hour film without a traditional Hollywood story arc can work, i.e. a story without a big unrealistic, show-stopping end…just like in real life. How novel!

Think about it. How likely is it that you go to Vegas for a bachelor party, get roofied and survive a night of mayhem in the city’s underbelly only to make it back for the wedding without a hitch?

Or getting pregnant in high school, deciding to have an abortion but then meeting the perfect barren woman to raise the baby just in time?

Don’t get me wrong, I laughed my ass off at pre-franchise Hangover and Juno is one of my favorite films of the past 10 years. Still, none of that happened to me.

Boyhood did. Before Sunrise-Sunset-Midnight did. And Everybody Wants Some most definitely did.

Growing up in a house with an older brother and a father whose life revolved around sports and games, most everything was a competition. And it was fun.

Living in the Pacific Northwest, rain was pretty much guaranteed on Thanksgiving Day – perfect conditions for the annual “mud bowl” (two-hand touch football between the Nashes and Spiveys in our big back yard).

Summer at the Nash house was like one long tournament – epic ping-pong matches long after dark, two-on-two (basketball) or whiffle (base)ball depending on the numbers. And when things had to be moved inside – Nerf basketball, UNO or boring Trivial Pursuit when grandpa was in town. Just like in the film, it didn’t matter.

I grew up wanting to win, no matter the game or sport (probably more a case of not wanting to lose, in retrospect).

With a brother 8 years my senior and a father who could outrun me despite our 31 year age gap, life could be hard…until I went to summer camp and held court on the ping-pong table.

Things really took off when I went away to college – I was surrounded by other guys who liked to play and didn’t like to lose either.

Ping PongYOU WANT SOME A THIS?!

And that is what the film is about – young men at the top of their game, testosterone raging in their veins, competing for the hottest chick in the bar, the longest bong hit, whatever can be made into a game. No one sitting around alone checking Twitter or Facebook.

If you’re expecting “Revenge of the Jocks” or “Texas Pie”, you’re going to be disappointed – there’s a little T & A but it takes a BIG back seat to the pre-digital, unadulterated gamification.

However, if you grew up around competition or had a strong desire to play and win, this is a must-see film.

And if you missed Boyhood or simply want to experience again a beautiful snapshot in the life of a regular, extraordinary boy named Mason, take 3 1/2 minutes and watch this:

 

So if you’re in the mood to see a film without big explosions or unexpected twists, a film about a time in the not-so-distant past when we had to think up stuff to play with EACH OTHER, not alone on our phones, this is a film for you.

Do yourself a favor and leave your phone in the car.

If and when you see it, I’d love to hear what it stirred up in you. Please leave me a comment below.