Welcome to Texas in the 80s. Summer is fading and high-school baseball star Jake (Blake Jenner) heads to college and moves into a share house with his rag tag “all-sorts” teammates. Before their days are filled with classes and training, Jake and the boys soak up the last rays of summer sunshine and immerse themselves in the college experience.
Linklater’s lyrical cinematic temporality is on show again in Everybody Wants Some!! (EWS) and he demonstrates once again his aptitude to get you to acclimatise to his character’s time zone. Slipping into EWS is like slipping into a warm bath; this spiritual sequel to Dazed and Confused seems to have cast off the pervading fear of the finality of ‘adulthood’ and relishes the immediate moment. To ape Truffaut, children see every life event as a ‘calamity,’ the relief for EWS is that Jake is cruising in with openness and coolness of McConaughey’s Dazed moustache. 1980s college, pre-internet is an intellectual, physical and social awakening.
EWS is a nostalgia machine. The soundtrack, for any of you 80s kids, is the soundtrack that you were either conceived by or infiltrated your consciousness at a young age so that when you hear the songs now they immediately put a smile on your face. As you’re toe tapping along it’s so damned refreshing to have an artist like Linklater visit the college campus in a way that doesn’t demonise male behaviour. Linklater creates a group of men that aren’t made misogynistic by the hedonistic college experience. There is some sociable hazing activities like not laughing at the new guys because they haven’t earned the right to be funny or duck-taping the new guys to a wall at their baseball field to use them as targets; making Jake and other freshman earn their way in the hierarchy of the group. There’s no malice, no prejudice, the guys are constantly saying yes to everything that college has to offer. Disco dancing, line dancing, punk rocking, acting and improvisation; all these activities get them closer to beautiful women.
In this brief window during this college orientation Linklater uses Jake (a warm, big grinning and younger self portrait of the director himself ) as the anti-jock douchbag. Glen Powell’s Finnegan is the veteran of the college experience, using many experimental techniques to impress women in between serious morsels of thoughtfulness. I think that he was carrying McConaughey’s Dazed look into the next decade. Tyler Hoechlin’s (a.k.a Superman in … the TV show … Supergirl) McReynolds is an alpha competitor who always feels like the fun is a brief respite from insatiable desire to win. It’s a performance that creates empathy instead of making you dislike him. J. Quinton Johnson’s Dale is the bridge between the established team members and the ‘newbs’ trying to groom them toward being acceptable team mates. Zoey Deutch’s Beverly is perfect because she’s in the film for a brief time but she makes it easy to believe that you’d instantly fall for her. The other gents (Juston Street, Ryan Guzman, Wyatt Russell, Temple Baker, Will Brittain) are all equally grand supporting.
Everybody Wants Some, like Dazed and Confused, feels like having old friends over, listening to records & reminiscing.
Blake Howard – follow Blake on Twitter here: @blakeisbatman
Directed by: Richard Linklater
Written by: Richard Linklater
Blake Jenner … Jake
Juston Street … Jay
Ryan Guzman … Roper
Tyler Hoechlin … McReynolds
Wyatt Russell … Willoughby
Glen Powell … Finnegan
Temple Baker … Plummer
J. Quinton Johnson … Dale
Will Brittain … Beuter
Zoey Deutch … Beverly