-A disappointing musical biopic starring Ethan Hawke and the latest revelry of an era from director Richard Linklater
If you read my short review of Miles Ahead in our last piece, you sort of know why I was frustrated throughout almost the entire run-time of Ethan Hawke-vehicle Born to be Blue, a tale that delves inside a hard time in the life of famous trumpeter/vocalist Chet Baker.
The film centers around a fictional film that was never made, detailing Baker’s life, where the flashbacks of prior trauma and relationships are told through the lens of crisp movies-within-this-movie, while the present details Chet’s romance with fictional Jane (Carmen Ejogo) and his attempt to come back to playing after a mouth injury.
Again, perhaps I’m tough on music biopics, but when a film is going to take on a musical legend like this, it should do the music correctly. The result is a film where the music scenes are among the worst in the movie, and sadly, you never really buy Hawke’s faking to play the trumpet. This would be acceptable if the remainder of the movie was done with any flair, but sadly, the romance that blooms between Hawke and Ejogo never really takes off, and this is culminated by a Lifetime Channel quality scene where Chet meets Jane’s parents about midway through the movie. There just isn’t really any chemistry there, and the entire time we spend huddled into their trailer with their relationship, we wish Chet would get back to playing music, and the entire time the music occurs, we wish the film was over. Although somewhat well-acted, and the decisions behind the movie-within-a-movie editing choices to incorporate flashbacks were certainly interesting, Born to be Blue ends up as a safe, often boring, alternative story to a much more interesting person in real life.
Born to be Blue
Starring: Ethan Hawke, Carmen Ejogo, Callum Keith Rennie, Stephen McHattie, and Janet Laine-Green
Director: Robert Budreau (X)
RT Score: 88%
Meanwhile, Richard Linklater has crafted a brand new period piece that takes the 80s, and makes it into one of the most fun, yet plotless, experiences of 2016 thus far. Although there’s not much more to this than a group of 15 or so baseball players partying and adjusting to college life in the week before classes, Linklater has made an extremely likable film where each of the characters manages to have their own personality, philosophies, goals, and senses of humor.
It may be a spiritual successor to Dazed and Confused (it feels like we’ve used ‘blood relative’ or ‘spiritual sequel’ more than usual this year), but the film has its own feel and point. The loose plot involves the ‘main’ character Jake (Blake Jenner) chasing after sophisticated theater girl Beverley (Zoey Deutch), but also is learning the lay of the land with his teammates, a slew of slightly recognizable but mostly unknown faces from various TV parts, as they go to Disco Bars, square dancing, drinking, partying, etc. There’s a scene at 11:00am where they are all already drinking beer and you wonder if these guys ever sleep.
There’s also a plot about living in the moment with baseball, because they’re all very good (one of the best teams in the country) but are afraid to truly leave it behind after college. They want to live in the moment, sleep with girls, and let us bask in the tacky 80s glory that surrounds this film. You want to be friends with the characters. You want to emerge yourself in this world, and as someone who played baseball, boy, do I wish I was on the team. It may not be excellently plotted or intricately scripted, but Everybody Wants Some is a great 2 hours worth of escapism, and Linklater has done it again.
Everybody Wants Some!!
Starring: Blake Jenner, Zoey Deutch, Glen Powell, Will Brittain, and Wyatt Russell
with: Ryan Guzman, Tyler Hoechlin, Temple Baker, Quinton Johnson, and Juston Street
Director: Richard Linklater (Boyhood, The Before Trilogy, Dazed & Confused, School of Rock)
RT Score: 88%