EVERYBODY WANTS SOME!! (2016)
Starring Blake Jenner, Will Brittain, Zoey Deutch, Ryan Guzman, Tyler Hoechlin, J. Quinton Johnson, Glen Powell, Wyatt Russell, Austin Amelio, Temple Baker, Tanner Kalina, Juston Street, Forrest Vickery, Sophia Taylor Ali, Jonathan Breck, Celina Chapin, Shailaun Manning and Lynden Orr.
Screenplay by Richard Linklater.
Directed by Richard Linklater.
Distributed by Paramount Pictures. 116 minutes. Rated PG-13.
Richard Linklater has a tendency to let his movies ideas marinate over a long period of time. His last film, the Oscar-winning Boyhood, was filmed over a twelve-year period. His classic Before Sunrise series has revisited the characters every nine years from 1995 to 2013 (and here’s hoping they will come back in 2022).
Therefore, it is no real shock that Linklater would eventually make his way back to the other jewel in his crown from his early career. The 1993 film Dazed & Confused was a funny and surprisingly smart low-budget comedy starring a bunch of unknown actors as kids dealing with high school and partying in Texas in the 1970s. Of course, those unknown actors included future stars Matthew McConaughey, Ben Affleck, Parker Posey, Renee Zellweger, Milla Jovovich, Adam Goldberg, Anthony Rapp and many others.
23 years later, Everybody Wants Some!! is not exactly a sequel, per se. Linklater refers to it as a “spiritual sequel.” The characters are different, but the basic nostalgic vibe is mostly the same. However, instead of life in high school in the late 70s, Linklater follows the Dazed and Confused generation to college in the early 80s.
Like Dazed and Confused, the film mixes wild party sequences with a subtle, more complicated humanity. The characters are smart enough to have discussions about philosophy and class structure, and yet dumb enough to drunkenly golf empty beer cans off a frat house roof. They seem more interested in music, partying and hooking up than studying, and yet the characters have hidden depths. It’s college like we all want to remember it – note that the first scene which actually takes place in a classroom is also the last scene in the movie.
Also like the earlier film, this one is named after a then rather current classic rock song (Dazed is Led Zeppelin, Everybody is Van Halen).
Like with Dazed & Confused, Linklater gives his roles to mostly unknown actors. In fact, the only one I recognized at all was Blake Jenner (no, not related to that Jenner brood), who spent a couple of years mooning over Supergirl’s Melissa Benoist as part of the second wave of students on the later seasons of Glee. Some other faces looked vaguely familiar, but the performances were uniformly strong.
These actors play young athletic scholarship students at a fictional south Texas college – members of the college baseball team who live together in two houses like they were in a fraternity. There is not much actual baseball here – it is supposed to take place the week before the beginning of the fall semester – and yet there is a fascinating look at the hierarchies, pecking orders and mental outlook of these students.
It’s a nice touch that none of these college stars ever really expect to make it to the big leagues, with the exception of one eccentric fireballer who is unanimously considered the biggest asshole of the group. The rest of the guys pretty much realize that they are no longer the big fish, they are now swimming in a much tougher stream. The rest of the guys know it’s going to end eventually, so they are going to enjoy their last moments in the glamour job, using the fact that they do something kind of cool to their advantage with parties and women.
It’s intriguing, though, how over time each of these characters, who seem somewhat stock characters to begin with, grow in complexity and likability. These guys may act like assholes sometime, but almost none of the characters come off as assholes in the long run. They are just college students, feeling out their direction in life, deciding what they want to do, experiencing total freedom for the first time.
It’s a pretty timeless dynamic, and yet Everybody Wants Some!! captures the lifestyles of the early 80s spectacularly as well. I feel particularly appreciative and protective about this storyline because I was a freshman in college at the exact time this movie takes place. (Yes, I know, I’m dating myself.) Therefore I’m more sensitive than most to possible missteps and anachronisms, and I have to say that Linklater has done a pretty good job of making you believe you really are in the fall of 1980. Some of the songs he used were a little later than the action takes place (“Urgent” by Foreigner, for example, came out in 1981) and there is a scene where a girl drinks a Dr. Pepper from an aluminum can with a pop top (they still had tin cans with pull tabs back then), but otherwise it’s a pretty seamless recreation of the era.
So while Everybody Wants Some!! is only “spiritual” in its continuation of the Dazed & Confused mantel, it’s a very worthy follow-up.
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2016 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: April 8, 2016.