Full throttle to the bottle.
Richard Linklater’s goals for Everybody Wants Some!! were immensely ambitious. Not only was the film acting as somewhat of a pseudo-sequel in terms of both chronology and thematic elements to his critically acclaimed Boyhood (one of my favorite movies of all time), it was also acting as a spiritual successor to the beloved Dazed and Confused. Now, those are certainly enormous shoes to fill. So how does Linklater’s latest film focused on everyday life compare to his already impressive resume?
Well, quite spectacularly.
Everybody Wants Some!! focuses on college freshman Jake (Blake Jenner) and his first weekend spent in his new found college town. Jake is set to play for the college’s baseball team, and lives in a house with the rest of the team, comprised of hyper-competitive eccentrics. What follows is a weekend full of drinking, picking up girls, and discovering oneself.
Yeah, on paper it sounds a little cliche, but it’s a relatable story, which is what Linklater excels at. All of his films are known for having a central humanist core to them, and Everybody Wants Some!! is no different. Everybody Wants Some!! subtly explores the aspects of self-identity of college students, how to define it, and what exactly that means in a time of tremendous change for most people. This subtext is threaded throughout the film and provides the majority of the emotional meat of this story. With that being said, it tackles this issue rather lightheartedly (along with almost everything else), and the film is all the better for it.
In the hands of another director, this film could have been another cliche and generic college sex comedy, but Linklater injects genuine heart into this film and gives it palpable emotional depth. Instead of caricatures, Linklater is able to craft this group of rowdy college students into a group of characters that feel like real people (I’ll touch more on this later). Linklater’s specialty in film-making has always been making every day life engrossing, and Everybody Wants Some!! continues this trend.
There is no real plot to the film, no real central conflict to focus on. It simply focuses on one weekend, and how this group of friends chooses how to spend it. It’s a real slice of life film, and it just various vignettes of the different activities the group indulges in. It’s a weekend full of drinking, ping pong, baseball, arcade games, lip syncing Rapper’s Delight, and picking up women. This lack of any real central plot helps give the film a breezy tone and it makes it easier to enjoy the interactions between Jake and the rest of his baseball team.
The film is absolutely hilarious. Seriously, I must have had this stupid smile on my face for the entire film from how much I was laughing. It’s a simple film, but one that is such an enjoyable experience. It really focuses on living in the moment and because of this the film just feels exceedingly endearing.
The entire cast does such a great job in the film. The chemistry between all of the actors in this film feels so real that it legitimately felt like I was watching a real group of friends hang out one weekend. They all had such an engaging dynamic. Coupled with a sharp and witty script, their interactions are easily the best part of the film. You get to see friendships and rivalries form naturally and it never feels forced. This competitive dynamic that exists between everyone feels so believable and leads to some moments of pure hilarity. Wyatt Russell and Glenn Powell are the standouts from the cast in my opinion, but everyone in the film did a fantastic job.
Just like Dazed and Confused was a period piece set in the 1970s, and Boyhood was defined by the early 2000s, Everybody Wants Some!! lives and breathes 1980s culture. From the clothing, the activities, and the general outlook of the characters, everything in this film feels so authentically 80s which adds to the charm of this film. I don’t think you could separate this film from its time period, it’s integral to its tone and feel (I think Linklater is determined to make a defining film for every decade, but that’s merely my own speculation). This gives the film the excuse to have an amazing soundtrack, putting together the pretty much definitive 80s mixtape. The music itself is almost a character in the film, similar to the role music played in Guardians of the Galaxy. Once again it contributes to both the film’s authenticity and its easy going tone. It pairs well with the overall aesthetic of the film and I could see myself actually buying the soundtrack once it comes out (Rapper’s Delight is still stuck in my head..).
Overall, I absolutely adored this movie. I’m a huge Linklater fan so I already had high hopes going into this film. When I read all of the glowing reviews that were coming out of SXSW, and my expectations skyrocketed even further. And even then Everybody Wants Some!! still managed to exceed my expectations. This film is just pure enjoyable fun. I think it’s safe to say that it is my favorite film of the year so far. It’s going to be hard to top this one.
Linklater has done it again.