Everybody Wants Some!! (2016)
Like a thematic follow-up to Dazed and Confused, Everybody Wants Some!! is an irresistible film that captures the energy of youth with a lot of nostalgia
Written and directed by Richard Linklater. Starring Blake Jenner, Glen Powell, Will Brittain, Zoey Deutch, Ryan Guzman, Quinton Johnson, Temple Baker, Wyatt Russell, Tyler Hoechlin, Tanner Kalina and Juston Street.
According to Richard Linklater, Everybody Wants Some!! is supposed to be a thematic follow-up to Dazed and Confused (1993) and Boyhood (2014), in the sense that it picks up where those two films left off when they showed their characters in their last day of school in 1976 (the former) and about to start their college life as they met their new roommates (the latter). Now, we follow again a group of youngsters, but in the fall of 1980 as they are about to enter college – and like Dazed…, this is a refreshing film that captures the energy of youth with a sweet sense of nostalgia and characters who seem like real people as they are supposed to be like.
Written and directed by Linklater, Everybody Wants Some!! (an obvious allusion to Van Halen’s song, which also plays in the film) begins three days before classes begin with the arrival of freshman and baseball pitcher Jake (Blake Jenner) at the house that he will be sharing with other members of the Southeast Texas Cherokees college team. There he meets his teammates Finnegan (Glen Powell), Billy “Beuter” (Will Brittain), Roper (Ryan Guzman), Dale (Quinton Johnson), Plummer (Temple Baker), Brumley (Tanner Kalina), Jay (Juston Street) and Willoughby (Wyatt Russell), with whom he will have what seems like the best three days of his life – and if I try to mention most of the guys, it is because the movie explores and develops so successfully the personalities of each one that none of them becomes irrelevant or forgettable.
As one can see from this brief description of the plot, the movie’s structure is as loose as the one of Dazed and Confused, with the characters involved in trivial situations and most of the time just trying to have fun. What I mean is, it is all about the “now” – which is how it is supposed to be when you think about handsome, horny athletes in their best shape, desperate to score some women, break all of the rules of the house (which are explained to the guys in a hilarious scene), party all the time and play baseball. And that is why the moment in which we see them singing together in a car is so particularly amazing, because it makes plain explicit what Everybody Wants Some!! is about: a gallery of lovable characters going through that brief moment in their lives when they still don’t need to mind about the responsibilities of adulthood.
But Linklater doesn’t want only to capture the feel of youth, he wants to capture a moment in time: the end of the ’70s and beginning of the ’80s, a transitional period that still retains the style and vibe of the ’70s, linking it to Dazed… almost as an informal sequel and creating an underlying impression that we are witnessing the end of an era and beginning of a new one. And so we have the style, the music (the soundtrack is, of course, awesome), the clothes and haircuts – everything screaming ’70s from the art direction to the costumes, including a disco club that feels almost like a trip back in time. All made better by Linklater’s excellent direction, which impresses us even with a split screen in a telephone call scene.
To make everything all the more pleasant and delicious, it is almost impossible for us not to fall in love with those guys – especially Glen Powell, who is extremely charismatic and delivers such a magnetic performance that he basically steals every scene he appears in. In one remarkable moment, for instance, we see in parallel each of the characters having fun (a merit of the excellent editing also), a special moment that gives them their own moment to show us who they are. And the dynamics between them are so priceless that we can’t help but enjoy seeing them go through the movie as they smoke pot, prank each other in the locker room and even end up, of all places, in a punk club.
It is only a pity, though, that the main character, Jake, is so bland and doesn’t have a lot of charisma when compared to his mates. I wonder if this is a general problem with Linklater’s protagonists – remember Ellar Coltrane’s character in Boyhood, who was also not really an example of charisma. Jake is supposed to be the kind of everyday guy who is thrown (together with us) in the middle of a small town with new friends and a new girlfriend, but he is completely outshined by his fellow co-actors. The same can be said about Zoey Deutch, who plays Jake’s interest Beverly and seems like the perfect woman for him, equally dull and uninteresting – and even a nice dialogue such as that about Jim Morrison used as a litmus test loses its charm with these two.
But despite that, Everybody Wants Some!! is irresistible enough to make us smile the whole time, as if we are spending the time of our lives with these guys (and to be honest, we are). And for a film with no conflict in the hands of Linklater – who even finds space for a wonderful, meaningful reference to an episode of The Twilight Zone (anyone who has seen the episode “A Stop at Willoughby” will know what I mean) –, it is as delightful as it can get, drenched in nostalgia for a time that has already passed. So just sit back and let the good times roll.
June 21, 2016