“Everybody Wants Some!!” Movie Review

     Writer/director Richard Linklater has said during press interviews for his new film “Everybody Wants Some!!” that he views the story as a sort of continuation from his Oscar nominated “Boyhood” (2014).  As you may recall, “Boyhood” was a groundbreaking achievement in which Linklater filmed the same actors over the course of 12 years, focusing on the childhood and growth of the story’s main character.  “Boyhood” ends where “Everybody Wants Some!!” begins, as we meet Jake (Blake Jenner), a star high school baseball player, who is arriving to college for his freshman year.  The setting is a fictitious college in southeast Texas during the 1980 school year, with the story taking place in the three days proceeding the day classes are scheduled to begin.

     “Everybody Wants Some!!” isn't so much a plot driven story, as it is a time capsule, seemingly dug up after being buried in Linklater’s mind for the past 36 years.  There really isn’t an end game in play here.  No love stories or quickly materialized relationships.  Just a peek into a short 72 hour period of time which is really no more significant or meaningful than any other period of time.  And yet Linklater is able to say so much.  You won’t really know these characters when the film concludes, but you will know what their basic routine will be, as it is not likely to change during their stay in college.  They wake up and immediately begin plotting their social lives, which typically means alcohol, recreational drugs, and hooking up with any willing girl within arm’s reach.  Funny thing is, this is a baseball team who lives in an off campus house, of which the baseball coach forbids them to use alcohol or bring girls upstairs, but there is no sight of any baseball being played until the third act when the group has their first batting practice and team scrimmage.  And the focus in that scene isn’t really about baseball.  A sports movie this is not.

     Instead, Linklater focuses on this group of young adults and their first experience being away from home with an abundance of new freedom.  In 1980, there were several states which still had 18 as their minimum age to consume alcohol (The age of 21 became federal law in 1984.), which is the first thing many will notice when the newly acquainted team members head on down to the local watering hole and order up a couple pitchers of beer as they discuss that night’s impending conquests.  But that’s not the only thing which stands out.  Along with Linklater’s personal experience based script, production designer Bruce Curtis and Set Decorator Gabriella Villarreal have truly outdone themselves with an endless array of props and sets which are sure to bring a smile to anyone who was growing up at that time. 

     As the new teammates, which include the aforementioned Jake as well as Finn (Glen Powell), McReynolds (Tyler Hoechlin), Dale (J. Quinton Johnson), Nesbit (Austin Amelio), Roper (Ryan Guzman), Jay (Juston Street), and Willoughby, who is played by Wyatt Russell and looking every bit like his famous father in “The Thing”, fill their days with plenty of joking and competitive back and forth, including several of the upperclassmen establishing their spot in the pecking order both on the field and in the house as it is consistently pointed out to the freshman their accomplishments in high school no longer matter.  Fortunately, regardless of each guy’s status within the group, the partying at night seems to be a level playing field for all involved.  In just three days, they find themselves starting out one night at a disco named Sound Machine, which appears to be a call back to the old “Solid Gold” TV show, only to end up kicking it at a full fledged country bar.  But if these boys prove anything, it’s there willingness to try it all, as the next night has them in the middle of a mosh pit at an underground punk rock concert, only to somehow make their way to a party hosted by a performing arts sorority.  And all of this happens before they ever attend their first class! 

     As I said earlier, there really isn’t a story here, but there wasn’t in “Boyhood” either.  It’s as if you, the audience member, are tagging along with these characters and enjoying their ride as they launch their college careers.  What struck me as the most obvious benefit of the film is the realization that these guys are fully capable of entertaining themselves without a smartphone in their hand.  Can you imagine that?  Just from my own personal experience growing up, I nearly broke out in laughter when Nesbit proclaimed himself the resident “Knuckles” champion, only to have a freshman, Brumley (Tanner Kalina) step up to the challenge in a monumental battle of pain tolerance and mental fortitude.  It was absolutely hilarious to think that is how we used to entertain ourselves, rather than playing the latest app or scrolling through the news on our phones.  People even read real books back then, and actually listened to these spinning round plastic discs called records!  But what really stood out is the amount of conversation.  Not a text.  But two people looking into each other’s eyes and exchanging emotion face to face.  Believe it or not, it was the only option at the time if you were planning on making that night a memorable one.  GRADE: B+