Everybody Wants Some!!

Scott Wallace
22nd Jun 2016

Everybody Wants Some!!, the latest from acclaimed and unpredictable director Richard Linklater may be a film about a baseball team, but don't be fooled into thinking this is a baseball movie. It's been billed as a spiritual successor to Linklater's 1993 classic Dazed and Confused, and it shares with that film a fully realised period setting, killer soundtrack and loose, plotless structure.

Like the earlier film, Everybody Wants Some!! is like receiving a really great mixtape from a friend. It begins with the arrival of Jake (Blake Jenner) at his new college home to the immediately recognisable sounds of The Knack's "My Sharona." As Jake settles into his new home with his teammates, and slowly realises that he's no longer the big fish in a small pond, the film is more-or-less just a series of moments over the space of four days that don't have that much to do with one another, but settle into a cohesive whole aided by Linklater's trademark tenderness.

The film has an unusual rhythm, and like Jake, the audience is immediately thrown into the deep end. Nearly the whole ensemble cast is introduced in the first few scenes, and it is a lot to take in. Once there is time to settle into the strange, meandering rhythm of the film, though, there is much to unearth from this inventive and original screenplay.

Much of the film consists of crass and silly humour, delivered with amazing commitment by a very talented cast. Even the characters with the smallest roles, who originally seem like throwaways, come to stick, and fold perfectly into the film's tapestry. There is stunning interplay between the more outsized personalities like the fun-loving Finnegan (Glen Powell) and the competitive Glen (Tyler Hoechlin) and their quieter counterparts like Jake and other newcomers.

Essentially, Everybody Wants Some!! is a search for identity. It gleefully indulges in the trends and fads of the early 1980s - disco, country, punk - while the motley crew of characters that come and go try to find their place. With the introduction of the charming performing arts student Beverly (Zoey Deutch), Jake finds a sort of refuge from the cartoonish hyper-masculinity of his teammates that the film eagerly deconstructs.

Music from Van Halen, Cheap Trick, Parliament, Brian Eno, Blondie, Foreigner and many more create a real sense of borrowed nostalgia, which ironically transcends the film's period setting and makes its themes seem more universal. It's quite remarkable how a film with such youthful exuberance also ties in strong and complex emotional undercurrents without ever seeming imbalanced.

Fans of Linklater's distinctive deconstructive style will adore this film, but others may want to approach with a more open mind. Everybody Wants Some!! is the kind of quiet and easygoing coming-of-age film that only Richard Linklater could have made, and while it's not perfect, it's an excellent addition to his amazing catalogue.

Everybody Wants Some!! opens in Australian cinemas on Thursday June 23rd.