D/W: Richard Linklater. DP: Shane F. Kelly. Starring: Blake Jenner/Glen Powell/J. Quinton Johnson/Temple Baker/Wyatt Russell/Ryan Guzman/Tyler Hoechlin/Juston Street/Will Brittain/Zoey Deutch.
The summer movies are here and the next one on the list is Richard Linklater’s Everybody Wants Some!! (please note the irritating exclamation points). This is Linklater’s follow up to 2014’s Boyhood, which earned critical acclaim and awe for its shooting schedule. Here he returns to his native Texas to chronicle the three days leading up to the start of class at the University of Texas in 1980.
Five years before the flash and videos of 1985 in Sing Street, this 1980 is still recovering from the 1970s. Handle bar mustaches and discos still thrive with plenty of man thigh to go round. Everybody Wants Some!! centers on the move in day of Jake (Blake Jenner), a freshman pitcher on the University of Texas baseball team. A National Champion team, the boys have been gifted two off-campus houses that essentially function as their own athletic fraternity nests. Jake joins his fellow freshman in hazing rituals, nights out, and must learn the dynamic of a team all before classes begin.
Linklater is best when working with his own material which is evident in the longstanding popularity of his 1993 film Dazed and Confused. Even if you have not seen the film you know of Matthew McConaughey’s famous line, ‘Alright, alright, alright.’ The Before Sunrise, Before Sunset and Before Midnight trilogy is a gorgeous work of long takes and you can see his interest in story construction that would lead to Boyhood. Here he cuts the three day story into logged time so you can follow how much just happens in three days. Once Blake moves in he attends a disco, a country bar, his own baseball house party, a drama party and his first practice. This pacing helps a film without much dramatic conflict work to engage its audience in characters and dynamics rather than twists.
Frankly, Everybody Wants Some!! is pure testosterone driven fun. The players chase girls, tease each other, and compete in everything. Jenner’s tall and lanky frame supports his big eyes that allow his innocence to feel age appropriate and genuine rather than put on. Mostly having been on Glee, he’s an ample freshman lead. The best performance is Texas native Glenn Powell whose logically instructive Finnegan is able to dilute the machismo of other characters and be a humorous voice of reason. Wyatt Russell is also a hoot as a pot smoking Californian. The team’s chemistry is what keeps the film going, as Jenner’s Jake pursue a girl Beverly (Zoey Deutch), you know the true love is the team.
America’s favorite pastime is a perfect sport for a movie as it does not require one specific physique in all its players. The team spirit is intrinsic to the sport and Linklater taps into that easily. He also manages to balance a nostalgic film that does not overcook its references. An early scene of the team singing along to a song sets the tone perfectly. Sure the title alone is a bit cocky, but that’s the story isn’t it? This is sex, love and baseball and it is just a good time. I would have liked just one player to have a girlfriend that was not long distance, but I still enjoyed it. Right down to the cunnilingus joke.