Review: Everybody Wants Some!! – Richard Linklater knocks it out the park

Mark Reynolds

In films, as in sport, the sublime moment conceals years of dedication and practice, and Richard Linklater is at the top of his game in this deceptively loose ensemble comedy.

Dubbed by Linklater as a ‘spiritual sequel’ to his cult 'school’s out' comedy Dazed and Confused (1993), Everybody Wants Some!! sees a group of baseball scholarship freshmen join a fictitious Texan university, where they vie for acceptance on the team.

We view this world primarily through Jake (Blake Jenner), a wide-eyed and laid-back pitcher keen to explore the new freedoms that college life brings. Although like all the newbies he is met with some hostility by senior players and roommates, this is all part of a bonding ritual designed to foster a winning mentality, and there’s little risk of cool, confident Jake falling by the wayside.

The film is set over a single weekend before the start of term in 1980—the year Linklater himself went to college and joined the baseball team—and the period detail is meticulous. Beginning with a regrettable fashion code of Burt Reynolds moustaches and Saturday Night Fever silk shirts and tight pants, every actor and set is dressed with gaudy panache.

 

 

"A hyperreal, excruciatingly funny yet wholly believable slice of life."

 

 

This was a peculiarly confusing time for identity-seeking young adults, and our heroes do the rounds of bars and parties assailed by cultural attractions ranging from disco to punk via line-dancing in a cowboy joint.

Aside from the baseball, of course, college is all about getting it on with the opposite sex, and this pursuit is played out against a grinding soundtrack of popular hits of the day. The title is borrowed from a Van Halen song, and the film opens to The Knack’s ‘My Sharona’—both urgent calls to get it on.

Other mood-setters range from Chic and Donna Summer to Blondie, The Cars, Devo and Brian Eno, as well as a memorable singalong to Sugar Hill Gang’s ‘Rapper’s Delight’. It’s an eclectic but utterly authentic mix that brilliantly captures the time.

 

Everybody wants some

 

Among the other characters, scornful team captain McReynolds (Tyler Hoechlin), floundering lothario Finnegan (Glenn Powell), pothead philosopher Willoughby (Wyatt Russell), pent-up pitcher Jay (Juston Street) and hopeless gambler Nesbit (Austin Amelio) are stand-outs, while Zoey Deutch’s Beverly is sweetness personified as she teases out Jake’s inner sensitivity.

Some faces are familiar, others may be taking their first steps on a stellar path followed by the likes of Matthew McConaughey, Jason London, Ben Affleck, Milla Jovovich and Parker Posey, who were all cast as virtual unknowns in Dazed.

Every role is intensely crafted, no matter how small the part. A collegiate feel was forged a month ahead of shooting as the cast bunked up together on Linklater’s Texas ranch, rehearsing, playing ball, pushing each character’s boundaries and honing the group’s interactions. The result is a hyperreal, excruciatingly funny yet wholly believable slice of life of the kind at which Linklater excels.

It’s a winning formula with a pulsating heart and an infectious exuberance. In the words of The Knack:

M-m-m-m-m-m-m-my, my, my, aye-aye, woo!

Everybody Wants Some!! opens in cinemas across the UK from Friday 13th May

 

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