Richard Linklater is no stranger to using the construct of time to tell a richer and more immersive story. From the Before trilogy to Boyhood and beyond, time is not only key to the narrative: it is essential to the characters’ evolution.
In Boyhood the action unfolds over years; in the Before films, hours; and Everybody Wants Some!!, Linklater’s 18th film as director, takes place over mere days, but it ultimately has the same impact. Raw, meaningful moments are effortlessly stitched together to reflect the realities of life. After all, life is not a series of plot twists – it’s shaped by relationships and the everyday interactions that take place between eating, sleeping and working.
We are catapulted into 1980s Texas and immediately introduced to Jake (Blake Jenner) and the group of baseball-playing jocks we will spend the next two hours with. It’s here that Linklater’s finely crafted use of time and character set the tone for what’s to follow. Each character is well-defined and introduced organically. Nothing feels forced. As a result it becomes a party you want to get involved with. Every member of the gang has their own charms and flaws, but it’s impossible not to like them – bravado aside.
Whilst it is clear Linklater isn’t setting out to do anything profound here besides reminiscing about his own experience, you have to admire the craft behind it. On the surface Everybody Wants Some!! is a simple college comedy about the first weekend before classes start – the spirited sequel to high-school drama Dazed & Confused – or even another American Pie or Road Trip with added Van Halen and Pink Floyd.
But that would be underselling its intentions. Whilst there are no statements about race, inequality or sexuality on display – the film notably sidesteps these issues in favour of showcasing the beauty of making connections – it does positively reflect the human condition. We get jocks hanging out with thespians and disco lovers cutting shapes with punk enthusiasts, all in equal harmony. It sounds crazy, but it works. The handpicked soundtrack adds a whole other dimension and earns the film another star at least.
There is, perhaps unsurprisingly, little to show for plot. Parties, drinking, sexual exploits, record-playing, the odd brawl and even mud-wrestling punctuate the story, but mostly serve to showcase the characters’ role within the group.
Female characters are largely side-lined, but it’s hard to fault that when the film makes no attempt to hide the fact that it’s the guys’ story. That said, Zoey Deutch’s infectious turn as Beverly adds a degree of maturity to proceedings and hints at a more adult story to follow. The dialogue between her and Blake is razor-sharp and played with a touch of vulnerability.
Everybody Wants Some!! is not a classic, but it is laugh-out-loud funny throughout, and succeeds in the impressive task of feeling both expertly crafted and immensely real.
Everybody Wants Some!! is out 13th May.