With a permeating sense of nostalgia and a whole lot of fun coursing through Linklater's latest release, Everybody Wants Some!! is what every American sports comedy hopes to achieve.
Richard Linklater’s latest film is a whimsical exploration of what it means to be a teenager, piling together a top notch cast in a care-free ode to the summer vacation. Everybody Wants Some!! is another example of Linklater’s impeccable style – drifting through three days of pre-college freedom with measured, gentle steps; he has easily reached an impressive peak in his career. As he utilises a countdown until college begins as the main meter of action, it would be easy to argue that nothing really happens for the duration of the movie – but that’s exactly the point. Epitomising the ‘everything and anything’ opportunities of the college-free period, Linklater produces a heady concoction of nostalgia, laughter, and most importantly: fun.
Focalising on freshman Jake (Blake Jenner), the film begins by introducing us to his new home for the next four years, and the friends he will be sharing it with along the way. With a scholarship as a pitcher for a fictional university in Texas, Jake is holed up in a house full of baseballers that will be his team as well as his housemates. Young men with heaps of swagger and cockiness to match are brought on screen in rapid succession as Jake navigates the way to his room, meeting Billy ‘Beuter’ (Will Brittain) as the underpants-clad cowboy he will be rooming with. After a suitable amount of jibing from his peers, Jake is dragged out before he can even set down his luggage (a hefty amount of vinyl and very little else), starting the countdown to college off in style with a few beers and some new friends. Across the three days the boys get themselves into parties, competitions, and of course some trouble – all whilst searching out the next girl to hit on or the next good time to crash.
Linklater’s obsession with relationships and personality shines through the brightest in this piece, with not a single character out of place and not a single actor proving to be a weak link. This is remarkable considering the sheer amount of people that compromise the film, as well as the brash personalities that Linklater has created throughout his process- every single one of them leaves their mark on the narrative and comes together to create something truly unique. Willoughby’s (Wyatt Russel) psychedelic philosophising, Finnegan’s (Glen Powell) relentless mockery, Jay’s (Juston Street) tempestuous hotheadedness, Plummer’s (Temple Baker) cluelessness and Dale’s (J. Quinton Johnson) smoothness, amongst the others in the house. All mingle and mesh in such ways that would be incomprehensible to a lesser artist, but Linklater pulls it off effortlessly. It truly is a representation of both his talent and that of the actors when considered in its entirety, as the film is driven completely by the way these guys interact with each other. Albeit, this is in competitive, American jock sportstar fashion – but instead of being utterly scoff worthy or boring, we are drawn in to their banter and ‘fuck-withery’ in a charming, hilarious way. The film expresses the American sports comedy in a fashion many films have tried and failed to achieve.
We even have a little romance, but excitingly, it doesn’t take over the narrative. Rather, it adds a new layer and a little texture to the male-heavy environment. Zoey Deutch plays artsy Beverly excellently, contrasting the world of aggressive competition in the form of baseball with her passion for theatre. Without her, the female form would be lost to vacuous bodies to be leered at and chased after – though this is only as we are being pointed from a young, horny and male perspective throughout.
With a sense of smoothness and a sentimentality that extends to even those who haven’t experienced the 70s-80s, Linklater has again crafted a wholesome, enjoyable piece that brings fun and laughter with every new adventure. Ranging from the disco nightlife to the punk subculture, including every type of competition from bong-hits to ping pong battles, and backed by the perfect accompaniment of 80s soundtracks, Everybody Wants Some!! has something that will strike home with anyone watching. Spending time amongst a horde of excitable teenage jocks sounds like most people’s idea of hell – but it would be a lie to say that two hours just doesn’t feel like long enough. A personal bond is developed with each and every character and it’s sad to say goodbye; even though no-one really achieves anything and nothing major drives us to the movie’s end, you still walk away satisfied. The film is like a pure shot of carefree fun and is a welcome break from the real world for its running time for anyone after a good laugh. “Here for a good time, not for a long time” has never been more accurately embodied on screen.
Everybody Wants Some!! (2016), directed by Richard Linklater, featured at Sydney Film Festival 2016.