Everybody Wants Some!! Review

Posted: April 26, 2016 by Daniel Simpson (PG Cooper) in PG Cooper's Movie Reviews

Written by Daniel “PG Cooper” Simpson
everybodysmall

I think it would be fair to say that Boyhood was a pretty big deal when it was released in 2014. The film was one of the most acclaimed and discussed films of the year, being placed in many year-end lists and being nominated for a slew of awards. The film also represented a certain artistic peak for director Richard Linklater. While I don’t think it’s his best film, Boyhood was certainly a highly ambitious project and a great film, one which, in many ways represented the culmination of Linklater’s style and themes. I was very curious how Linklater was going to follow-up such an achievement and the answer is Everybody Wants Some!!. Though the film is a lot more low-key than the aforementioned Boyhood, Everybody Wants Some!! does fit well within Linklater’s ability to tell humble stories about relatable characters in an entertaining and insightful way.

The film opens in the fall of 1980 with college freshman Jake (Blake Jenner) moving into his home for the school year the Friday before classes begin. In addition to being a student, Jake is also a pitcher for the school’s baseball team and will be sharing the home with his fellow team mates. Quickly, Jake meets many of these team mates, including older students like Finnegan (Glen Powell), McReynolds (Tyler Hoechlin), Roper (Ryan Guzman), Dale (Quinton Johnson), Jay (Juston Street), and Willoughby (Wyatt Russell), along with fellow freshmen “Beuter” (Will Britain), Plummer (Temple Baker), and Brumley (Tanner Kalina). The group engage in a weekend of social bonding, drinking, partying, baseball, competition, and trying to pick up girls as the beginning of the semester counts down.

It’s probably very clear that Everybody Wants Some!! is not a film driven by plot. Rather, the film is a return to the “hangout vibe” found in Linklater’s beloved 1993 film Dazed and Confused where the appeal is basically just spending time with the characters. As such, the cast is really essential and thankfully the one assembled here is great. Linklater opted for a group of relatively unknown actors and that does help provide a sense of authenticity. Really though, the real magic is just how much fun these young actors are to watch and how well they work together. I wouldn’t necessarily say any one performance stands out, but basically every actor here commits to their role and delivers a very good performance. A sense of camaraderie is developed very quickly and it’s very rewarding to just watch the cast interact. Scenes often play out comically, but there are more nuanced things going on too. I was very impressed by the way the actors and Linklater’s screenplay created characters who were fairly complex even in small rules. Characters who initially seem unlikable are also given moments of relatability and likewise the characters who seem likable and cool are also shown to be selfish. The point is these characters are not good or bad guys, just young people, some of which you like more than others. Additionally, despite the large cast, Linklater does a good job developing everyone sufficiently.

Though Everybody Wants Some!! shares an affinity with Dazed and Confused (and has even been described as a spiritual successor), there are some key differences separating the two films. For starters, Everybody Wants Some!! is set over the course of a few days, rather than “one crazy” night and the film is also more specifically focused on a main character rather than the sprawling ensemble of Dazed and Confused. While the supporting cast are certainly essential to Everybody Wants Some!!, the film is clearly Jake’s story and the whole thing is told through his perspective. However perhaps the biggest change is that Dazed and Confused was set at the end of high school, with many of the characters contemplating their uncertain future. It was a film that was clearly nostalgic for the time period depicted, but there was a certain melancholy present too. Everybody Wants Some!! on the other hand is set at the beginning of a college semester (through the eyes of a freshman no less) and as such has a greater sense of optimism and hopeful energy.

Everybody Wants Some!! is certainly a very entertaining film which is consistently fun to watch. It’s a funny film with a great cast, a series of strong scenes which flow together well, and an eclectic soundtrack of punk, disco, country, and most importantly, rock which captures the time period and the various situations the cast find themselves in. However if the film is lacking anything, it’s a certain lack of weight. While Linklater’s Before trilogy and Boyhood used their humble style to mine some really poignant and emotionally powerful stories, Everybody Wants Some!! is much more content to simply be a fun watch. There’s nothing wrong with that necessarily, but it does make the film feel a little light. Granted, I don’t want to give the impression that this film is entirely frivolous. There is some stuff here about identity, particularly in how the crew bounce from disco bar, to country bar, to punk show, in a quest for good time and to meet girls. There are also some pseudo-philosophical discussions pertaining to college, romance, and life, but these largely seem secondary and have been explored more adequately in other Linklater films.

I think a lot of people are going to see Everybody Wants Some!! as something of an artistic comedown after the back-to-back triumphs of Before Midnight and Boyhood. I don’t necessarily disagree, but I also think it would be a mistake to overlook this film and the many things it does right. The film does an amazing job capturing a certain mood, creates some great characters, and is consistently entertaining scene after scene. These aren’t easy things to do, and it also isn’t an easy to make a film so sparse on plot so engrossing. Beyond that, I simply can’t deny how much fun I had watching Everybody Wants Some!!. From the acting, to the writing, to the soundtrack, to the way Linklater puts it all together, the film is simply a joy to watch from beginning to end and hardly hits a false note along the way.

A-

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