Reviewed by GREG KING
Director: Richard Linklater
Stars: Blake Jenner, Zoey Deutch, Tyler Hoechlin, Juston Street, Will Brittain, Wyatt Russell, Austin Amelio, Temple Baker, Glen Powell.
Not as ambitious in scope and scale as his previous film Boyhood, which was filmed over a period of twelve years, Richard Linklater’s latest film has been touted as “a spiritual sequel” to his 1993 slacker classic Dazed And Confused. While steeped in a strong sense of nostalgia for the early 80s, it also explores some familiar themes to Boyhood as it explores the journey of young men on the cusp of adulthood.
Everybody Wants Some is a coming of age tale set in the fall of 1980, and follows a group of young high school jocks who are heading off to college and who will become the school’s baseball team. Most of them were at the top of the sport in their high school, but here they will be competing against the best in the state for a place on the team. For many of them this is their first time away from home and they are just starting to find their own feet. Over the course of three days before school starts the guys begin to bond over shared experiences, partying, drinks, practical jokes, and a little bit of batting practice.
Everybody Wants Some is not quite as freewheeling as Dazed And Confused but it is still a little episodic in nature. The film is just as nostalgic though, and is more tightly structured. There are no great dramatic moments, and Linklater adopts a rather laidback approach that suits the tone of the material.
The closest the film comes to a central character is in Jake (Blake Jenner, from Glee, etc), a blonde haired all-American boy and hot pitcher, who arrives at the shared off campus house that will be his home, with a gym bag of clothes and a milk crate full of vinyl records.
Other characters in the house include McReynolds (Tyler Hoechlin, from tv series Teen Wolf, etc), the natural leader of the group who also hates losing at anything; the hyper and sociopathic weirdo Jay (Juston Street); the naive country boy Beuter (Will Brittain, from The Doo Dah Man); the perennially stoned dope fiend Willoughby (Wyatt Russell) who has lied about his age so he can cling to a more idyllic past; the ultra competitive Nesbit (Austin Amelio, from The Walking Dead, etc); the buffoonish Plummer (Temple Baker, in his film debut); Roper (Ryan Guzman), and Finnegan (Glen Powell, from The Expendables 3, Ride Along 2, etc).
As the only female of note in the cast Zoey Deutch (Vampire Academy, etc) has a strong presence and plenty of charm with her performance as Beverly, the love interest for Jake. An acting student she opens him up to some artistic and cultural experiences and shows him that there is more to life than just sport and male camaraderie.
Unlike most other college campus comedies which descend into raunchy antics and sexual escapades, Linklater’s Everybody Wants Some is grounded in a reality that most can identify with. There are some raunchy bits, but generally the tone is low key rather than in your face. Some of the characters engage in a bit of self reflection and explore their own insecurities. As he showed with his Before trilogy Linklater has a good ear for dialogue, and it flows well here, and is mostly credible, giving us some insights into these characters. And while baseball is a motif in the film, this is more a character driven slice of life movie that will appeal to audiences who fondly remember that era.
As is to be expected from Linklater, a former journalist for Rolling Stone, there is a great soundtrack featuring the lies of Foreigner, Pat Benatar, Cheap Trick and The Knack’s iconic My Sharona, that adds to the atmosphere of the setting and the time. The film’s title itself comes from a Van Halen song. Linklater is great at capturing the tenor of the times with music, costumes and small details that emerge through regular collaborator Bruce Curtis’ atmospheric production design.
Dazed And Confused featured an ensemble cast of some young up and coming actors who were largely unknown in 1993, including Matthew McConaughey, Ben Affleck, and Parker Posey. Similarly Linklater has cast a bunch of largely unknown actors from the world of television here, and they mesh well as an ensemble. The film has a youthful energy though, and is generally entertaining. Whether Everybody Wants Some achieves the same level of cult status as Dazed And Confused though remains to be seen.