UK Release Date: 13th May 2016
Runtime: 114 minutes
Director: Richard Linklater
Writer: Richard Linklater
Starring: Blake Jenner, Glen Powell, Wyatt Russell, Zoey Deutch, Temple Baker, Quinton Johnson, Will Brittain, Ryan Guzman, Tyler Hoechlin, Juston Street
Synopsis: A college baseball team indulges in the hedonism of women, parties and campus life as they fill the days before classes begin with whatever they can get their hands on.
Richard Linklater made slacker movie history in the early 90s with the iconic high school movie Dazed and Confused. He took on the process of coming of age once again with the twelve-year odyssey of Boyhood, narrowly missing out at the Academy Awards. His latest take on the genre, 80s-set comedy Everybody Wants Some!!, focuses on the early stages of college life. It’s a ramshackle, lightweight story but one that benefits from a breezy tone and some of the most entertaining dialogue committed to the big screen this year.
Jake (Blake Jenner) is a college freshman moving into a house with the rest of his baseball team, sharing a room with a redneck (Will Brittain) nicknamed ‘Beuter’ by the other players. Jake immediately bonds with the easy-going ladies man Finnegan (Glen Powell) and the wannabe philosopher Willoughby (Wyatt Russell). The team bonds with each other as they draw nearer to the beginning of classes, consuming as much beer as they can and popping along to as many parties as possible. The advent of classes also leads to a change in attitudes as Jake forms a close relationship with performing arts major Beverly (Zoey Deutch).
Everybody Wants Some!! is Linklater right in his wheelhouse. It’s an ambling and deliberately lackadaisical story that simply points the camera at a group of characters and watching them live their lives. Linklater is entirely unconcerned by the fact that there is no clear plotline being followed here and his script focuses on its rapid succession of crude one-liners and the kind of pseudo-intellectual philosophy that will be familiar to anyone who has ever been to a university party.
This breezy dialogue is the film’s greatest strength, but also one of its biggest weaknesses. Linklater makes little attempt to humanise or deepen his characters, who are uniformly misogynistic jocks with little on their minds other than shagging and shots. It’s tough to become fully invested in the fortunes of the characters in Everybody Wants Some!!, given that they are almost all the type of people I would cross the street to avoid if I saw them during the day. These people are pretty intolerable, but within the hermetically-sealed fiction of the film, the idiosyncrasies that would be impossible to overcome in reality become entertaining quirks.
Former Glee star Blake Jenner steps up for his first cinematic leading role at the head of this ensemble. He is the fairly likeable everyman in the midst of an ensemble filled with big, often rather abrasive, personalities. Jenner is funny and believable, particularly in his relationship with the delightfully sparky Zoey Deutch. Jenner is often asked to play it straight, though, allowing Glen Powell’s Finnegan to steal just about every scene in which he appears with some of the snappiest and most memorable dialogue.
Linklater’s main skill, though, remains his ability to flawlessly evoke a time period. The scenes in which the lads enjoy uniquely 80s discos and bars are picture perfect versions of the past and bring the film to life. This creates the sort of timeless quality than ensures Everybody Wants Some!! will not age and will remain an incredibly entertaining depiction of a moment frozen in time.
Pop or Poop?
Richard Linklater strikes again with Everybody Wants Some!!, which is a vastly enjoyable take on the 80s college scene, capturing the carefree hedonism of a period without consequence. Solid performances from the likes of Blake Jenner are the perfect vehicle for Linklater’s snappy writing, which is far more interested in the gags than the depth. The film doesn’t shy away from the worst excesses of its characters, but provides just enough distance to separate the audience from their flaws.
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