This film will thrill a certain set of men who experienced college during the '80s and had a meaningful period of personal growth during that time.
Everybody Wants Some!!Director: Richard Linklater
Cast: Blake Jenner, Tyler Hoechlin, Ryan Guzman
US Release Date: 2016-04-08
Richard Linklater is the king of overheard dialogue. While his movies often contain compelling storylines and directorial flair, it's the conversations that command the most attention. From Slacker on through the Before Trilogy, what people are saying about and to each other is far more important than a specific plot point or a single camera shot. Other filmmakers such as Kevin Smith and Quentin Tarantino are known for their scripted words, but they must bow down to Linklater. Even in his experiments, like the rotoscope animation of Waking Life or the 12 years in the making Boyhood, the truth comes from the communication, not from some clever storyline.
His latest film, Everybody Wants Some!! is being referred to as a companion piece of sorts to his stoner hit Dazed and Confused. We're once again channeling a specific era (the '80s) and a specific place (a college in Texas). Add in a title taken from a classic track (instead of Led Zeppelin, Van Halen gets the nod) and an ensemble that represents a cross section of university life (heavy on the jock-isms, for obvious reasons) and you've got more than just a sequel -- this is a spiritual second act, an attempt to meld the Me Decade mindset with the ever-increasing presence of President Reagan's Morning in America.
We meet our guide through this particular campus, Jake (Blake Jenner) as he enters his freshman year with one distinct advantage: he's a highly recruited pitcher from a noted high school team who is now entering the frat-house like fray of Southeast Texas' baseball team. In this athlete-oriented arena are various types, including fellow newbie Plummer (Temple Baker), smooth talker Finn (Glen Powell), the acknowledged leader McReynolds (Tyler Hoechlin) and resident pothead Willoughby (Wyatt Russell). We watch as the three days prior to the start of classes these guys are taken up with partying, preparations, and more than a little personal growth.
It's an amazing ensemble, another thing that Linklater is famous for, and every performance here is pitch perfect. Before you ask, there is indeed a woman involved in the cinematic sausage fest. Her name is Beverly, and as played by Zoey Deutch, she's the kind of rebel (she's arty and into punk) that turns our hero's journey from a Pilgrim's progress into a true journey of individual insight. There's also the kind of humor you expect from the director, especially within the brazen boy's club setting of a baseball team.
Another thing Linklater is excellent at is using pop and rock classics in his soundtracks. From the opening, featuring the familiar tub-thump of "My Sharona", we work our way through such sonic smashes as Stiff and the Tears' "Driver's Seat", Foreigner's "Urgent", and another Van Halen chestnut, "Ain't Talking 'Bout Love", all synced up flawlessly with the filmmaker's intention. Yes, it's another mixtape meant to accent and explain the times, and it does so with the kind of speaker filling fantasies that all his movies contain.
Like any snapshot, Everybody Wants Some!! feels universal without truly addressing everyone's individual stories. It looks and feels right, especially for those of us who were in college at the same time. Linklater knows how to bring the past to life without relying on gimmicks or clichés. Some may argue that pot served as the stunt in Dazed and Confused but that movie was far more memorable for turning Ben Affleck into a bully and Matthew McConaughey into a letch than for any real reefer madness. Everybody Wants Some!! is no Animal House, by the way. There's far more philosophizing going on here than toga parties.
Still, as he does with almost all his films, Linklater discovers the line between being a member of the crowd and standing out. It was what drove his aging lead in Boyhood, and the center of almost all his narrative debates. We each experience such moments when we learn about ourselves, when the society's rules and realities are adopted or rejected. In those introspective sequences, we recall the building blocks of what got us to where we are now, and movies like Slacker, Dazed and confused, and now Everybody Wants Some!! remind us of these growth periods in our lives.