Everybody Wants Some!! movie review: 'Dazed and Confused spiritual sequel is exactly that - a cracking ensemble piece'
That Richard Linklater chap sure is talented. Not content with having presented audiences with one of the greatest cinematic couples of all time in the marvellous Before trilogy, everybody’s favourite Texas film-maker has, of course, served up a fine array of stand-alone gems over the years. 1993’s Dazed and Confused is still one of the best coming-of-age comedies ever made.
2003’s School of Rock simply rocked. And then there’s 2014’s multi-award-winning drama, Boyhood, which kinda took our breath away. Indeed, if there’s one thing Linklater is good at, it’s shining a magnifying glass on the things that make us human. His favourite theme? Change, relationships, time — you name it, Linklater will crack it open.
What, you think we’re getting too deep about this dude? Oh, okay, then. In that case, you’ll be happy to know that Everybody Wants Some!! (the twin exclamation marks are intentional) is pretty much a film in which a bunch of college baseball players go on the lash the weekend before class starts. Betcha didn’t see that one coming.
Or maybe you did, given the fact that a) Everybody Wants Some!! is, technically, a “spiritual sequel” (the studio’s words, not mine) to the aforementioned Dazed and Confused, and b) the official tag line is “get ready for the best weekend ever”.
Yes, we know. This whole “spiritual sequel” malarkey is exactly that. But the similarities are uncanny. D&C (set in 1976) threw the curtain down on the final day of class at Lee High School, Texas, featuring football players, partying, a wee bit of marijuana and a whole lot of Matthew McConaughey.
EWS!!, on the other hand, is set in 1980 (also in Texas) and features none of the same characters from its spiritual predecessor. Instead, it’s the first week of college and we’ve got baseball players, partying, plenty of marijuana and a whole lot of talented actors whose names you aren’t yet familiar with. But, you know, we’ve still got the (comical) philosophical exchanges and a deadly soundtrack. Allow me to be the first to say it, then: alright, alright, alright.
It’s three days before the bell is due to ring at the Southeast Texas State University, and young Jake (Blake Jenner) is the new kid in town. Jake’s a pitcher, and one of the newest additions to the college’s baseball team, most of whom share a fraternity house off campus.
It takes all of 10 minutes for Jake to meet his new housemates, including the team’s stoner (Wyatt Russell’s Willoughby), the thinking-man’s jock (Glen Powell’s Finnegan), the resident messer (J Quinton Johnson’s Dale) and the obligatory strongman (Tyler Hoechlin’s Glen). Next, they hop in a car, go “cruising” for women and set up shop at the nearest bar.
Along the way, the lads perform a delightful version of the Sugarhill Gang’s Rapper’s Delight. Oh, and Jake also has a brief encounter with Beverly (Zoey Deutch), another fresher who thinks he’s cute (we’ll come back to that, obviously).
According to the boys’ coach, there are just two rules which everyone must follow in order to stay in the house: no drinking beer and no shenanigans with the ladies. Both of ‘em will be broken by midnight.
What else? Well, there’s an absolute nutter on the team, most of them hate losing, and there’s lots of talk about life, music, adulthood and sex. The boys also mix things up every night (country clubs, punk gigs, arty farty parties — you name it, these guys will trash it). They believe their own hype and they are, in their own heads, gods among men. And that’s it, really — aside of course from the blossoming romance with Beverly, whom Jake remembers to call once he’s had his fun with a complete stranger. Oh, and nobody ever gets a hangover.
You know where Everybody Wants Some!! is going to go (nowhere). You know how and when it’s going to end (the clue is in the tag line). But the magic of Linklater’s detailed, conversational piece, with its rose-tinted depiction of a sun-glazed era that most of us on this side of the Atlantic won’t recall, is in the performances (brilliant and, occasionally, affectionate) and the dialogue (sharp and endlessly witty).
True, the narrative (which was flimsy to begin with) takes a back seat to the lads’ drunken behaviour, and there are times when the story looks as though it’s about to run out of steam. But there’s chemistry and charisma on that screen and Linklater just about manages to rein things in, serving up a warm and exuberant brand of self-made nostalgia that, despite its meandering set-up, almost always wins us over.
- Also out this week: Movie reviews: Green Room, Mustang, The Angry Birds Movie, Everybody Wants Some!!
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Who would have thought that a movie about a bunch of lads on the piss for three days would be so sweet and charming, eh? A cracking ensemble piece.
Comedy. Starring Blake Jenner, Zoey Deutch, Tyler Hoechlin, Glen Powell, J Quinton Johnson, Ryan Guzman, Wyatt Russell. Director: Richard Linklater. Cert: 15A.