With its late disco sounds, tight shorts and beer-flecked moustaches, Richard Linklater’s personal re-creation of his college years is a pure, cinematic wallow.
However, in this director’s lightly-thoughtful style, it becomes something more than nostalgia, a coming-of-age tale about sex, baseball and intellectual development.
The title is taken from a 1980 Van Halen hit and it’s set in the run-up to the start of a college year at Southeast Texas State University campus in August 1980. The film focuses on the jocks of the baseball team, who all live in a couple of neighbouring houses. Our ingenue eyes here are those of freshman Jake Bradford, played by Blake Jenner, an actor who has a Linklater-like openness and soulful humility even while holding his own among the jock-ular banter, or “fuckwithery” as he likes to term it.
We meet the various types, some sharper than others. There’s a lovely scene where five of them drive around doing Sugar Hill’s Rapper’s Delight and Linklater lets the rap go on for ages. They cruise around looking at girls and destined for beer. Only our baleful Linklater-alike actually gets a cute one, a Performance Arts major named Beverley (Zoey Deutch).
While clearly in the mould of his early films such as Dazed and Confused, there’s still a whiff of Boyhood’s bildungsroman here, as Linklater’s proxy realises that perhaps playing baseball isn’t all it seemed at high school. There are hopes and dreams here, and character differences that don’t always fit a team ethic.
The film is neatly pitched between the two – lots of male bonding and locker room antics meet bong hits and ping pong fits, while a new world of philosophy and music opens up to our smartening hero, his eyes growing wider with every scene ’til you think they might pop when Beverly finally lets him get the “some” of the film’s title.
You can’t really watch Everybody Wants Some without a smile on your face. The disco scenes at a club called Sound Machine (Jermaine Jackson’s Let’s Get Serious), the opening road trip into campus to My Sharona, the frat parties with Parliament on the turntable and the weed-fuelled discussions to Pink Floyd – Linklater has a marvellous facility for soundtracking memories and finding the textures of youth, all of which hang like frayed edges from a pair of denim cut-off shorts.
The various characters in the team all get their little stories and moments, and some we care about more than others, particularly the charismatic (and, one feels, floundering) Brad Pitt-alike Finnegan played by Glen Powell. But this isn’t quite a study in competitive edge and camaraderie.
Like Boyhood – although it’s set over three days not 12 years – it has imperceptible emotional gradations and, even while a touch of sadness creeps in at the edges (ah, poor Willoughby), it works a charming cumulative spell. Indulge, wallow, drink and inhale deep, fall in love, sleep through class – find yourself as you lose yourself in Everybody Wants Some!!***