Richard Linklater’s follow-up to Boyhood is an effervescent autobiographical comedy, which features a group of baseball jocks enjoying a weekend of male-bonding and girl-chasing; it is a wonderful advert for Texas college life circa 1980. To paraphrase an advert from the time, Everybody Wants Some!! is a lipsmackin’ beer-drinkin’ butt-slappin’ dope-smokin’ beeze-shootin’ crotch-huggin’ jeans-wearin’ coolfizzin’ sunny delight.
Jocks get a bad deal in the movies: most sports-majoring students are portrayed as knuckle-headed idiots. Everybody Wants Some!! sets the record straight: not all of its jocks are dumb, but they are competitive team-players obsessed with sex.
Everybody Wants Some!! is the spiritual sequel to Dazed and Confused (1993), Linklater’s slacker comedy, set in 1976, which showcased the embryonic talents of Ben Affleck and Matthew McConaughey. Both films immerse the viewer in the lives of partying young Americans on the cusp of High School/College life. Not much happens in the way of drama, but it is great fun hanging out with the terrific ensemble casts, observing their group dynamics and hearing the hits of 1976 and 1980 again.
Linklater’s title is taken from a song by American rockers Van Halen, and he is obviously a big fan of music from this era (see 2003’s School of Rock). Kick-started by The Knack’s My Sharona, the film takes us on a jukebox odyssey through power pop, disco, country and punk. An early scene rivals Wayne’s World’s joyous version of Bohemian Rhapsody when the housemates sing along to Rapper’s Delight on the car radio.
Everybody Wants Some!! begins with freshman Jake (Blake Jenner) moving into his new college house on the Friday before term starts. He is likeable and friendly, picked out by his future girlfriend for being ‘the quiet guy in the back seat’ amongst his more rambunctious team-mates. Jake is keen to embrace the joys of college life, open to his ‘inner strange’, though he worries about being a fake. Ladies’ man Finnegan (Glen Powell) reassures him that it’s okay to be adaptive – it’s all in the cause of ‘getting pussy’.
Women don’t get much of a look-in here. Apart from Beverley (Zoey Deutsch), female characters are there to be chatted up or shouted at from car windows (‘T-t-t-t-tits!’ – to which the girls reply, ‘Fuck off, faggots!’). This is a macho world, with the locker-room smells of Lone Star beer, marijuana, cheap aftershave and sweaty jockstraps.
But despite all the jock camaraderie – the high jinx, drinking games (‘full throttle to the bottle’) and knuckle-flicking contests – the film has a warmth and wit that sets it apart from most high school romps. With one exception, Linklater makes his young men believable as human beings, despite their 1970s-by-numbers stylings: captain of the baseball team, Coma (Forrest Vickery) is a dead ringer for Joaquin Phoenix in Her. Another looks like Keith Lemon. The oddball Glen (Tyler Hoehlin) looks like a character that Baron Sacha Cohen discarded – a demented Ali G with the hair of Norman Bates’ mother.
Despite lacking a traditional story arc, Everybody Wants Some!!’s breezy script and music ensures that there is never a dull moment. Linklater has made his recollected college days come alive and given them soul. Words of wisdom mostly come from the bong-smoking hippy character – ‘bring what you are, not what they want’, but also from Jake on Monday morning – ‘it’s kind of beautiful that we get to feel passion in this world.’
And if that’s too pretentious for you, then there’s always Twister in underwear, rooftop golf, mud wrestling and a water bed to liven things up.