By Adam Ray Palmer
Today’s film review is of the coming-of-age comedy Everybody Wants Some!! from the talented writer/director Richard Linklater.
This is Richard’s second venture into the adolescent world in as many years after 2014’s Boyhood starring Ethan Hawke and Oscar-winning actress Patricia Arquette.
Everybody Wants Some!! is a slight departure from Boyhood as this is more of a comedy than drama, but is Linklater right to swap the heartstrings for witty banter? I’ll tell you…
Set in the fall of 1980 at a Texas based college, Everybody Wants Some!! centres on Jake (Blake Jenner) and a bunch of college guys who navigate through three hectic party days before school begins. Jake is a baseball pitcher who finds himself amongst a variety of misfits as they bond over girls, drinking, sports and drugs.
Linklater (director/writer, Boyhood) doesn’t take long to thrust us into the testosterone-fuelled frat den. We arrive at a frat house with Jake (Jenner) as his soon-to-be baseball team mates are filling up a waterbed. From this moment on, we know the era, the silliness that will ensue and the different personalities the house homes. Jake’s newfound crew consist of an arrogant, typical jock McReynolds (Tyler Hoechlin), the hippy and philosophical Willoughby (Wyatt Russell), the classic clown Nesbit (Austin Amelio), and the confident and amusing Finnegan (Glen Powell). The other misfits all fit into the stereotypical horny, banter and interchangeable moulds like most other coming-of-age films.
As you can tell by the large list of protagonists, Everybody Wants Some!! is certainly character-driven. We follow this group through college activities and learn about their comradery and masculinity in the 1980s.
Richard Linklater stated at a New York press conference that this film is largely autobiographical.
Many of the lewd situations that appear on screen including the coitus-heavy house parties are past experiences of Richard’s, he commented “I was there, yup, it all happened”. This film seems to be stuck between a spiritual sequel to Dazed and Confused but also a throwback to Linklater’s younger days. The film is made up of isolated scenes (perhaps memories) that strung together one after another, creating a narrative that isn't overly compelling.
As there is very little going on with the story apart from flirting between different party scenes including a country bar, a disco night out at Sound Machine or gig at a Punk club – the cast needed to be on the money. Richard has compiled a list of up and comers that help Everybody Wants Some!! float from scene to scene with a lasting impression on the audience. Powell, Russell, and Hoechlin in particular are so memorable on screen, quipping each line they are given.
Although, it’s Zoey Deutch’s leading lady role of Beverly that becomes the saving grace in a film that is crying out for some relief at certain points. Linklater recognises this need and gave Deutch the key role. That decision turns out to be spot on as she perfectly puts the film on a low simmer when called upon. If she wasn’t introduced to the film, the second half would have been a chore.
The casting is a true testament to a writer/director who knows exactly what he is doing. It’s a huge ensemble with 15+ characters leading the story. The immense diversity in personalities makes this film work and every frat member represents a different individual in real life. Linklater gives the majority their own screen time to shine. It’s also worth noting that a part from the baseball coach early doors, there isn’t another adult on screen – Linklater does this for a reason. It seems to separate the ‘brothers’ from reality and adds further fuel to the sex-hungry flame the boys are burning.
On the whole, Everybody Wants Some!! is a mixed bag. It has scenes to savour but also areas that are non-existent. I think the beauty in this film comes when we expect very little. One of the best sequences is when four of the ‘brothers’ are smoking weed and getting deep in pointless discussions – it’s raw and makes you chuckle. The chemistry between the boys is another win for Linklater else it would have been a disaster; it looks like it was a genuine laugh to shoot. I wish Richard would have explored more areas in greater depth because you take very little away from the film in terms of further thinking - it ends a little flat. Although, you definitely feel you have seen the next big things in film; Zoey Deutch in particular. If Everybody Wants Some!! had a wider perspective like Dazed and Confused did, we would have another teen classic on our hands.
Cineroom Rating: 3.5 Stars
Everybody Wants Some is currently at the Phoenix Leicester with a limited UK release – certificate 15