DIR/WRI: Richard Linklater • PRO: Megan Ellison, Richard Linklater, Ginger Sledge • DOP: Shane F. Kelly • ED: Sandra Adair • DES: Bruce Curtis • CAST: Tyler Hoechlin, Zoey Deutch, Ryan Guzman
You’re tall, dark and handsome, driving your car in the wide open space of North American highways, blasting The Knack’s ‘My Sharona’ on the stereo. You’re on your way to begin university in Texas, set to play pitcher for the college’s baseball team, and about to have the time of your life. So opens Richard Linklater’s latest, Everybody Wants Some!!, a compelling, feel-good evocation of the student experience.
Our lead, Jake (Blake Jenner), is initially a little taken aback as he enters the dorm that will constitute his home for the duration of his studies. As a member of the university’s baseball team, he is to bunk with his fellow team mates, with the somewhat naïve freshmen mixed in with the not significantly wiser sophomores. Don’t let their similar attire – denim jeans (the film is set in 1980) combined with tight t-shirts to show off their bulging muscles – fool you. These boys are bounding with individual personalities, although when they hang out together, they demonstrate a similarly jock-like pride and competitiveness that is verging on narcissism. Still, there is a child-like playfulness to them as well which is hopelessly endearing. Their sense of fun and love of humour is wildly infectious.
There isn’t a whole lot of story to describe here. The entire film takes places over the weekend before semester starts, and so most of it consists of basically following the boys around as they get to know each other and have some banter while they don’t have to attend class. Their ‘manly ritual’ activities include singing ‘Rapper’s Delight’ in the car while driving around, trying to score with the ladies, playing sports, getting drunk, and getting high. They experiment with a variety of scenes in their leisure activities, alternatively visiting the local disco, a rodeo bar, and a punk rock concert. One particularly hilarious scene sees a group of the boys attempt to have a DMC while smoking pot in one of the lad’s bedrooms. On other occasions, we see the ridiculousness of the extent of the boys’ competitiveness with one another, for example, one game they play involves flicking each other’s knuckles until someone gets injured and gives up. The young men constantly prank and taunt one another but they also show a welcoming camaraderie that manages to be both timeless and nostalgic.
Linklater can thus add Everybody Wants Some!! to his already impressive filmography with pride. His previous works include Before Sunrise and its sequels, School of Rock, Bernie and the phenomenal Boyhood. Everybody Wants Some!! acts as a spiritual sequel to his coming-of-age classic Dazed and Confused, which followed a bunch of high school students in the 1970s and starred the likes of Matthew McConaughey, Ben Affleck and Milla Jovovich. Everybody Wants Some!! similarly stars an ensemble cast who will have varying degree of familiarity to the audience, for example, Blake Jenner should be recognisable for fans of Glee, Ryan Guzman starred in the latest Step Up instalments, and Wyatt Russell (son of Kurt Russell) previously showed his comedic chops in 22 Jump Street. The acting is all on point and it’s impossible to pick a stand-out performance out of the bunch. It’s likely that viewers will recognise their own friends or classmates in various characters, which is another enjoyable aspect of the film.
Feminists, be warned, there is a distinctly macho persona adapted by the male characters of the film, but at the same time, one can appreciate the fact that Linklater is also poking fun at it. There is a lot of fun and laughter to be had here, and I guarantee you’ll come out of the theatre smiling.
15A (See IFCO for details)
Everybody Wants Some!! is released 13th May 2016