Writer-director Richard Linklater revisited the '70s with his 1993 film, Dazed and Confused, so it shouldn't come as a surprise that he would want to turn his attention to the '80s with his latest effort, Everybody Wants Some!!, which opens areawide on Friday.
While the film ostensibly serves as a spiritual sequel to Dazed and Confused, a box office bomb that has become a cult classic, Linklater has also said he thinks of the film as a sequel to 2014's Boyhood because it begins at the point that Boyhood ends, with the first day of college. Fans of Boyhood, however, will likely find Everybody Wants Some!! to be a much rowdier affair as the film comes off as something like Animal House if that movie put an emphasis on character development and dialogue. In fact, most of the plot simply revolves around which party or bar to hit next.
As much as it captures the look and feel of the '80s (a classic rock soundtrack featuring everything from the Van Halen tune from which the movie takes its title to songs by the Cars and the Knack helps set the mood), its lack of any real plot serves as a major deterrent. While the characters allude to a crumbling economy (and one newspaper headline proclaims "a bear market"), the only tension here revolves around whether or not the guys will get laid.
And the film is all about the guys. Centering on the members of a baseball team forced to live together in off-campus housing, the movie effectively shows the camaraderie that emerges when a group of overly competitive men cohabitate. Sure, brawls break out if someone loses a game of ping-pong, but these guys live to compete.
Jake (Blake Jenner), a freshman with feathered hair and a subdued demeanor, suggests an alternative to all the testosterone. If his teammates represent holdovers from the '70s with their tank tops and mustaches, Jake suggests the more sensitive male that'd emerge in the '80s. As a result, he quickly attracts the attention of theater/dance major Beverly (Zoey Deutch), an artsy type who appreciates the fact that he doesn't come at her with insipid one-liners.
The cast of relatively unknown actors, which includes Wyatt Russell as the pot-smoking Willoughby, Juston Street as the hothead Niles and Glen Powell as the pseudo sophisticated Finnegan, really delivers here. The lack of meaningful conflict aside, this character-driven film possesses a likeable charm and capably captures the fast times of a bygone era. — Jeff Niesel