Director: Richard Linklater
Starring: Blake Jenner, Glen Powell, Zoey Deutch
I watched Everybody Wants Some!! at a New Zealand film festival, and to my surprise I was one of only 8 people in the theatre. Considering Richard Linklater being a very respected director, especially after the success of Boyhood, I expected a higher turnout. His Before trilogy is in the bracket of my favourite romantic movies of all time, he certainly knows how to direct his actors and construct a well-formed script. This is what pulled me into viewing this film, throughout which there were plenty of laughs by most of the audience, except for one who I heard sigh on many occasions, clearly she wasn’t impressed as she stormed out as soon as the end credits begun. A movie then that seems to be splitting opinion, perhaps?
With Everybody Wants Some!! Linklater gets nostalgic with a blast to his very own past to the summer of 1980. We follow a group of baseball jocks drinking, shagging, drug taking and getting up to all kind of college related shenanigans before their college year officially begins. During the opening 30 minutes or so I was certainly hooked, the script is very mature for its subject matter and this shines through in the development of the characters, which is the strongest point of the film. Linklater has managed here to give each character almost equal screen time, and develop each one so that they clearly have their own personality and opinions. The main difference between these college characters to most depicted in these types of films though, is that they are likeable. Yes they are jocks, but as the film progresses you see behind that shell that they don’t mind who they hang out with, they see everybody as equal. There is a standout performance by Glenn Powell as the kind of “leader”, Finn. His character is certainly delved into quite a bit, and the scenes seem to flourish when in he is in them, and he epitomizes the charismatic Jocks portrayed here.
Coming in to play mainly towards the final third is the love interest of Jake, Beverly. Played by Zoey Deutch, she offers a balance to the male oriented cast, and does a fantastic job. It is a shame though, that her role is behind the main issue I have with this movie. The relationship between her and Jake is genuinely interesting, but it isn’t developed until fairly late on, with everything before it being, simply put, plotless. Everything that happens before these scenes are the exact same, with no story driving it forward to an end goal. There is a sense of repetitiveness that is only saved by the worthy script and acting by its cast. After the first half hour I was itching for something to happen to switch direction and develop further, but it just didn’t come. We just saw more drinking, drug taking and hazing. This is where the film does fall flat for me, and really disappointed as I was wishing for a deep character driven storyline to appear amongst the craziness of college life. But, nevertheless when it came to the end I was happy to look over it.
There are so many good points about this movie that a lack of storyline, at least until the final act, didn’t gripe me as much as it should do. There are some beautiful shots in this movie, and the way characters move and interact with each other in these shots seems effortless and smooth. The soundtrack alone is worth mentioning, a given from a movie set in this era, surely? An era that boasts a dress sense and style that I only wished I lived through, magnificintely envisioned here, I felt like I was absorbed into the year it was set in.
Most importantly though, and my final point, is this movie is indeed very funny at times. Small bits of dialogue come across wonderfully, the timing perfect at times. Even the stupidity levels of these guys did raise a few laughs, all of this staying true towards those final minutes.
Even though Everybody Want Some!! is known as the “spiritual sequel” of the much-loved Dazed & Confused, it can still be viewed in its own light for sure. Does it measure up to Dazed & Confused? Not for me, but does it measure up to the best of the college movies (Porkies and Ferris Bueller notable mentions)? Most definitely. I left the theatre feeling satisfied with what I just saw, much in contrast to that woman who stormed out.