The hot college jocks in Richard Linklater’s latest, ‘Everybody Wants Some!!’ are all at the top of the foodchain, but they’re plausibly nice too, says Colum Finnegan
Conceived as an almost-sequel to both cult classic Dazed and Confused and the excellent Boyhood, Everybody Wants Some!! is Richard Linklater at his all-American best. In a sense this new film is like an amalgamation of its predecessors, the tomfoolery and childishness of Dazed with the more abstract approach to time and plot of Boyhood.
Early fall, 1981, our bright eyed protagonist Jake (Blake Jenner – Glee) arrives for his freshman year of college. Riding on a baseball scholarship, he’s been placed in a coveted off-campus house with the other members of the team, a rare privilege – most of his fellow freshmen have to live in supervised dorms.
The crew of lads he’s shacked up with are your a-typical sporto types, competitive, macho and obsessed with girls. Were introduced to a whole clatter of them but the standouts are team captain McReynolds (Tyler Hoechlin – Teen Wolf), the pseudo-deep, pipe smoking, Finnegan (Glen Powell – Scream Queens) and the straight-up cool dude, Dale (newcomer J Quinton Johnson). Each has a big personality and can hold their own on screen, providing both laughs and a human realness.
Being college age, straight males, naturally number one on the agenda is “chasing tail”, but thankfully, and despite all the chauvinism, they’re a fairly loveable bunch. This is testament to Linklater’s direction and scripting, because a misstep here and they would be irredeemable.
As for plot, it’s more or less non-existent, there is a vague arc involving a girl that Jake sees at the beginning and hooks up with at the end, but it’s all fairly secondary/incidental. The aim here is to immerse the viewer in a few aimless days in the life of am early ’80s college age male. This is typical of Linklater’s earlier work (Waking Life, Before Sunrise, and quintessentially Slackers) where plot hovers in the background superseded by dialogue and interpersonal dynamics.
At the fore of the film is the baseball team and their relationships at a formative and transitory period in their lives. The boys in question feel like the kings of the school, they’re at the “top of the food chain” in Linklater’s words. Their’s is the only sports team in the college that does well and so they command a lot of prestige on campus. This prestige is harnessed to impress girls and generally avoid any sort of taxing mental work – and boy do they have fun.
The fun however is tentatively counterpointed by the lad’s insecurities – all are undisputedly good at baseball, but only a handful will ever make it to the big leagues. This is a glimpse into their fleeting golden years and some of them are astute enough to know it.
Ultimately they’re good guys, just trying to have fun in the typical hetero way – in the spirit of eulogy the films shies away from any exploration of the dark side of college frat culture. Curiously Linklater himself went to college on a baseball scholarship, suggesting the film is at least semi autobiographical.
Everybody Wants Some!! is a thoroughly enjoyable nostalgia fest and a glowing portrait of the director’s own college years, taking us back to a time when it seemingly felt pretty damn good to be a college age American white male.
‘Everybody Wants Some!!’ is released this Friday, May 13, watch the trailer here
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