EVERYBODY WANTS SOME!!
Writer/Director: Richard Linklater
Starring: Blake Jenner, Tyler Hoechlin, Ryan Guzman, Justin Street, Wyatt Russell, Glen Powell, Temple Baker, J. Quinton Johnson, Will Brittain
You may remember me obsessing over Richard Linklater’s previous film Boyhood when it arrived in theaters in 2014 and became a big awards season contender. I also highlighted his film Dazed and Confused as part of my Criterion Collection series. His latest film, Everybody Wants Some!!, is considered the “spiritual sequel” to Dazed. No, we’re not seeing what happened to the characters previously played by Matthew McConaughey or Ben Affleck. Linklater has chosen a whole new cast of up and coming actors for his film. Blake Jenner form TV’s Glee and Supergirl leads the pack as freshman Jake Bradford. It’s August 28, 1980 and just three days before classes start at Southeast Texas University. That’s three whole days of partying and laziness to be had. Jake pulls up to his new frat house that is housing the rest of his baseball team. The guys learn that there are two rules in the house by their coach: 1. No drinking on the premises and 2. No girls are allowed upstairs. There would be no movie and no frat house if they kept to those rules. They go out the window on the first night of their big party. The rest of their three days of freedom are spent lounging around smoking pot, getting laid, and dancing at the local disco club, The Sound Machine.
Much like Dazed and Confused or Boyhood, Linklater takes a non-traditional approach and has a looser flow to it. He doesn’t always have a strict narrative structure to his films. He just follows the lives of his characters within the three days the film spans without having them go through some strange journey or conquest in the process. It’s that kind of examination of life that Linklater excels at where you don’t need to have a strong conflict or major self-revelation at hand. Dazed followed high school students on their last day of class. Boyhood ended with Mason heading off to college. Everybody Wants Some!! has Jake picking up where Mason left off as he is approaching his freshman year of college. If you went to college, you remember that first weekend as you move into your dorm, try to get settled, and already start getting pressured into going to parties. This concept is why Linklater’s films work well. He makes them universal even if you didn’t go through the exact same experiences as the film’s characters. I was far too innocent for my own good so while I may not have always participated, I remember these parties.
I always appreciate the little detail brought into a Linklater film that perfectly encapsulates the period. It’s fun to look back at the record players and receivers against the wall, the VHS tapes of recorded The Twilight Zone episodes that adorn Willoughby’s (Russell) room, the hand held video game players, and a musical soundtrack with the likes of “My Sharona” from The Knack, “I Want You to Want Me” by Cheap Trip, and the title is taken from the Van Halen song of the same name that perfectly fits the tone and era. I tend to get lost in fashion and there are plenty of ugly patterns, mustaches, and wigs on the male actors in the film.
Everybody Wants Some!! doesn’t set out to be about frat parties. You’ll notice that it bears little resemblance to recent frat films like Neighbors or Old School. There are no gross-out moments to be had. It also dawned on me that even though the boys play baseball there is a severe lack of that in the film. It’s only in the final half hour of the movie do we actually see them swing a bat. There’s a funny bit with the freshman being duct-taped to the fence as target practice. Linklater’s film is that slice of life for these innocent freshmen as they realize they are now on their own and there’s a whole world of freedom out there that is new to them. Jake, his roommate Billy Autrey (Brittain), and Plummer (Baker) have a lot to learn from the more experienced upperclassmen like ladies’ man McReynolds (Teen Wolf’s Tyler Hoechlin) and pro-toker Willoughby. Glen Powell (Scream Queens) is another highlight among the cast. They all have great chemistry together, and I wish I could “chill” with them.
I’m always drawn to Linklater’s films especially when he’s doing double duty as writer and director. Despite the actual count down that plays throughout the film, the open flow of storytelling may be slow for some. I don’t mind the pensive look back at a certain time of our lives. After working on Before Midnight and Boyhood, this one is the funniest and most laid back he has been in a while. Linklater is drawing on memories of playing ball in college, and the personal touches are evident. Even if you didn’t go to college in ‘80s, you will certainly have a big grin throughout most of the movie. I know I did.
Is It Worth Your Trip to the Movies? It doesn’t have the scope of Boyhood, but it’s still another fun win for Linklater.
RATING: 4 out of 5 TICKET STUBS
Check back soon for my interview with stars Tyler Hoechlin, Ryan Guzman, and Blake Jenner!