Oscar nominated writer-director Richard Linklater rekindles a bright flame of nostalgia in this valentine to student life, which exudes the same freewheeling vibe as his seminal 1993 film, Dazed And Confused.
While that picture illuminated growing pains at a 1970s high school, Everybody Wants Some!! zips up its impossibly tight jeans in the autumn of 1980, when a group of hormone-crazed college freshmen and sophomores hope to make their mark on the baseball field.
Linklater’s ear for sparkling dialogue is acute, like when one student snorts with derision at a housemate’s rippling waterbed: “It’s like having sex with a girl on top of a really fat girl!”
The script has no obvious sense of urgency or clear narrative direction, ambling through a series of bittersweet vignettes in the days before the hormone-fuelled characters are due to attend their first class.
Yet from this loose and seemingly flimsy framework, the filmmaker constructs a vivid and touching portrait of youthful exuberance and fraternal bonding that speaks to all of us who have struggled to find our niche and stand out from the crowd.
Jake (Blake Jenner) arrives at college, full of hope, as one of the new pitchers of the Southeast Texas Cherokees baseball team.
He moves into a house which has been set aside for the squad, and meets his cowboy roommate Beuter (Will Brittain).
“No booze... and no girls upstairs in the bedrooms,” stresses the team coach to the new arrivals, who include socially awkward transfer student Jay (Juston Street) and stoner Willoughby (Wyatt Russell), who seems to have dipped his toes in the same gene pool as The Dude from The Big Lebowski.
Older members of the team including Finnegan (Glen Powell), Roper (Ryan Guzman), Dale (J Quinton Johnson) and McReynolds (Tyler Hoechlin) take Jake under their wing and shepherd him on a tour of local hot spots, where he shakes his groove thing to Peaches & Herb and catches the eye of pretty student Beverly (Zoey Deutch).
As the first day of study beckons, Jake tests his mettle on and off the baseball mound including an unexpected reunion with old schoolmate, Justin (Michael Monsour).
Everybody Wants Some!! is a beautifully crafted blast from the past, blessed with strong performances from fresh-faced rising stars.
Linklater’s writing elegantly interleaves drama, comedy and romance, underscored with a deep affection for the finely sketched characters as they wrestle with their insecurities and egos.
The soundtrack rocks and rolls, opening to the infectious strains of My Sharona by The Knack, while a deliriously entertaining sequence involves the main cast cruising around campus in a car, singing along to Rapper’s Delight by The Sugarhill Gang on the radio.
“You start poppin’ your fingers and stompin’ your feet/And movin’ your body while you’re sitting in your seat,” chant the actors.
We happily oblige.