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Categories: Movie Reviews

Linklater strikes a home run with his latest piece of nostalgia.

Everybody Wants Some

Everybody Wants Some!!, Richard Linklater’s ‘spiritual sister’ to his 1970s high-school flick Dazed and Confused, is a delightfully meandering expedition into American cultural history. In a nostalgic depiction of that timeless, classic tale of newfound youthful independence, Linklater forgoes the conventional tropes of the average ‘teen comedy’ to create more than just a clichéd tale of college romance, tenuous sport scholarships or that paramount ‘big game’ at the end of the season, no doubt against some fierce and long-held rival university.

Instead, Linklater effortlessly depicts the whirlwind craziness of those initial days of campus life. The mystifying uncertainty and intrepid, wild excitement so often felt within the thrill of moving away from home; that first taste of freedom at last.

Linklater places his audience within the flagrantly kitsch domain of 1980, filled to the brim with references to the era and managing to capture the vivaciousness of youth as in his previous films, focusing on the baseball team and housemates of a nondescript Texas University. A plethora of college stereotypes find fruition within the plot: the philosophical stoner, the redneck, the ladies man, the alpha male, the annoying roommate and the lovable idiot.

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We follow freshman Jake (Glee’s Blake Jenner) as he arrives at his dorm three days before class begins, attempting to find his place alongside the talented and larger-than-life characters of his teammates. The boisterous group waste no time in bringing the freshmen into the fold, eager to fervently explore the various and often-incompatible social groups that intertwine within college life. Subjected to unsolicited and fortuitously astute advice, our freshmen are led eagerly and reluctantly by their college superiors down the path of socially acceptable degradation and debauchery.

Disco, Country, then “punks for a night”, the team intricately maneuver the various sub-cultures at hand, assisted by some last-minute costume changes, in order to pursue any and all forms of irresponsible mischief. The palpable chemistry between Linklater’s lead actors, supported by an often hilarious script, creates an ecstatic and effervescent expression of liberating adulthood.

Linklater’s directorial decision to remain nonspecific to a particular storyline allows the film to represent more than just one college lifestyle in one moment of American history, but reveals glimpses of every college experience, open to a wider interpretation that ultimately leaves a smile of remembrance on any college graduate’s face.

His rambling, free-associating structure epitomizes not only the alcohol-fueled lunacy of that first year away from home but conclusively engages us in a deeper understanding of the intimidating beginnings of college life. Leaving the security of your teen years and plunging headfirst into the mirage of diverse and daunting people you meet on campus can be a terrifying encounter. Suddenly being confronted with those who are more talented, beautiful or intelligent begs the question of who you really are and where you fit in within this network of intimidating heterogeneity. College life is freedom, but a terrifying one at that.

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The film explores this idea at its heart, through the unassuming and miscellaneous conversations between the teammates, as they lounge around their dorm house, wander aimlessly through the streets of the college campus or enthusiastically engage in their latest temptation. Sometimes superficial but at others revealing the fundamental bewilderment of adulthood, these obsessions include sex, drugs, alcohol, embracing your “inner weird” and, of course, baseball.

Although the film has some initial teething problems, by the end of the movie Linklater’s script finds its footing, due profoundly to the affectionate and enjoyable performances of the film’s leads. His structure works exceptionally well in places but unfortunately does struggle to keep its momentum, and there are therefore moments of undeniable dryness and flat dialogue. 

However, the over-arching pure and unadulterated joviality of the film, a believable and adorable romance, the stellar chemistry between the teammates and the masterful physical comedy of so many of the cast allows for the film to be thoroughly enjoyed regardless of its imperfections.

Linklater’s unwavering directorial prowess combined with a jubilant classic rock soundtrack finds resonance within his exploration into the joys of youthful exuberance, the perplexity of finding your inner self and the endless possibilities of an exciting and unknown future. 

Everybody Wants Some!! is out now in select cinemas.

Francesca Amoroso

Francesca is currently a Camera Assistant, working and living in London. She is an MA Film Studies graduate from UCL and writes about film in her spare time.

Posted on May 26, 2016

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