Following the universal admiration that was directed – and deservedly so – at Richard Linklater’s 12-years-in-the-making contemporary classic Boyhood, the anticipation surrounding the director’s next movie has been considerable. Marketed as a ‘spiritual’ sequel to Linklater’s 1993 effort Dazed and Confused, Everybody Wants Some is a wonderfully witty exploration of what it’s like to be a particular type of young male in America. Set in Texas in 1980, Everybody Wants Some tracks the antics of a group of college students in the week prior to the commencement of classes. Like so many of Linklater’s films (the Before… trilogy for example), Everybody Wants Some is very much dialogue-driven; the characters here love to talk and much of the film is nothing more than this motley group of young men riffing on sports and women and, well, that’s about it really, but rest assured Linklater, who also wrote the screenplay, has constructed characters far removed from the Stifler-esque grotesques who typically populate films in which teenaged males are front and centre of the narrative.
The film opens with Jake (Blake Jenner), a freshman pitcher who has secured a baseball scholarship to South Texas State University, arriving at the somewhat dilapidated house in which the baseball team are being accommodated. As Jake meets the various other characters who inhabit the residence, it becomes apparent that everything that happens here is a competition, a never-ending quest for one-upmanship and the alpha-male jostling for position in the social hierarchy. Whilst the various members of the team share a single-minded desire to achieve success on the field, their motivations for doing so and their expectations about where this success will lead are vastly different. There is very little baseball to be seen – just one practice session in fact – because it is not about baseball per se, it is about young men grasping an opportunity that has been presented to them and using it for maximum advantage; whether that be setting themselves on a path for a career in the major leagues or simply enjoying the freedom and friendship of university life. This freedom, of course, is all about partying and the pursuit of pussy which, as crass as it sounds, is a reasonable and reasonably accurate representation of the priorities that might inhabit the minds of young men in such a situation. Jake possesses a quiet confidence that enables him to engage with his housemates and their myriad misadventures whilst maintaining a sense of propriety in his romantic pursuit of the artistically inclined Beverly (Zoey Deutch).
Over the course of the film, not a lot happens to our intrepid troupe; some of them get laid, some get wasted and they all get bored. They cruise the streets trying to impress girls and find ways to keep themselves occupied during the day. The banter between them again demonstrates that Linklater has an understanding of young people that is perhaps only surpassed by the late John Hughes. It could be argued that their attitude towards women is unenlightened, but these young men do reveal levels of complexity beneath the swagger. Sure, the majority of the actors playing these roles are in their 30’s and you can never really believe that these characters are as young as they are supposed to be, but that doesn’t detract from the effectiveness of this as an insightful exploration of masculinity and mateship. Regardless of what transpires between them, they remain united in their commitments to the team. Whilst Jenner is solid in his first feature film role, it is Deutch who really impresses and it is no surprise to learn she subsequently has seven projects currently in various stages of development. Not confined to merely being an object of desire, Beverly is an intelligent, quietly confident young woman whose budding relationship with Jake proves our protagonist to be much more than a sex-obsessed muscle-bound jock.
The production design is fabulous with the costumes resplendently reflecting the sheer hideousness of 80’s fashion, while Linklater also uses the music of the time fantastically well, from the opening moments featuring The Knack’s My Sharona, to an in-car sing-along of The Sugarhill Gang’s Rapper’s Delight, to Devo’s Whip It and plenty more besides. Linklater was adamant that he would only use music that had been released at the time the movie was set (one song was rejected was because it was released just 4 days after the week in which the events take place) and this attention to detail is just one of the many things that make Everybody Wants Some such an utterly enjoyable experience.