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
Everybody Wants Some!! (2016)
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 characters in their last day of school in 1976 (the former) and about to start college life as they met their new roommates (the latter). Now, we follow, again, a group of youngsters but in the fall of 1980 when they are about to enter college, and like Dazed and Confused this is a refreshing film that captures the energy of youth with a sweet feel of nostalgia and characters who are like real people, as they are supposed to be.
Written and directed by Linklater, Everybody Wants Some!! (an 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 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 perhaps have 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 of them that no one becomes irrelevant or forgettable.
As anyone can see from this brief plot description, the movie’s structure is as loose as that of Dazed and Confused, with characters involved in trivial situations and, most of the time, just wanting to have fun. What I mean is, it is all about the now, which is how it is supposed to be when you think of a pack of horny athletes in their best shape, desperate to score some women, break all rules of the house (which are explained to them in a hilarious scene), party all the time and play baseball. And that is why the moment when they sing 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 the responsibilities of adulthood.
But Linklater doesn’t only want 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 retains the vibe and style of the ‘70s almost linking it to Dazed and Confused as an informal sequel and creating an underlying feeling 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 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 that is elevated by Linklater’s direction which impresses us even with a split screen in a telephone call scene.
To make everything more enjoyable, it is almost impossible not to fall in love with those guys, especially Finnegan. In fact, Glen Powell is extremely charismatic and delivers such a magnetic performance that he basically steals every scene he appears in. Likewise, one of my favorite moments is when we see each of these characters having fun in parallel, which is also a merit of the film’s excellent editing. It is a special scene that lets them show us who they really are. Besides, their dynamics are so hilarious that we can’t help being thoroughly amused seeing them spend their time smoking pot, pranking each other in the locker room and even ending up in a punk club of all places.
It is only a pity, though, that the main character, Jake, is too bland and doesn’t have a lot of charisma when compared to his buddies. I wonder if this is a general problem with Linklater’s protagonists — remember Ellar Coltrane’s character in Boyhood, who was not an example of a charismatic boy either. Jake is supposed to be the kind of everyday guy who gets thrown (together with us) into the middle of a small town with new friends and a new girlfriend, but Blake Jenner is completely outshone by his fellow co-actors. The same can be said about Zoey Deutch, who plays Jake’s love interest Beverly. Beverly seems like the perfect woman for Jake, equally dull and uninteresting, and even a nice dialogue about Jim Morrison 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 for a film with no conflict in the hands of Richard Linklater — who even finds space for a wonderful and meaningful reference to a certain episode of The Twilight Zone (anyone who has seen “A Stop at Willoughby” will know what I mean) — it is as delightful as it can get, full of nostalgia for a time that is already gone. So, just sit back and let the good times roll.