Stars: Blake Jenner, Tyler Hoechlin, Ryan Guzman, Juston Street, Wyatt Russell, Glen Powell, Temple Baker, J. Quinton Johnson, Will Brittain, Zoey Deutch | Written and Directed by Richard Linklater
The career of Richard Linklater has been a rather fascinating rollercoaster off ups and downs, very much mostly ups, though the period between School of Rock and Before Midnight was not the best but after the high of the one/two punch of Before Midnight and Boyhood, the world was his oyster (well maybe up to a certain level of budget!) To go back to college with what has been termed a spiritual sequel to Dazed & Confused was a brave decision. Get it wrong and accusations of playing it safe or going back to the well would probably be heard by reactionary types across the Film Twitter-sphere. This is not the world of Celine & Jessie for damn sure and Patricia Arquette won’t be classing up the joint with her devastating lines but hey, if you want rather more simple pleasures with the odd bit of self-reflection, you could hardly do better than Everybody Wants Some!!
With the last couple of efforts being some of the best work of his career, it is refreshing to see Linklater cool his jets a little and pretty much just have some fun. This story of a ticking time bomb before college explodes all over our protagonists faces has zero stakes to it whatsoever, no great loves are encountered (though certainly the burgeoning flame of love somewhat flickers towards the end) and any conflict had in the film is dealt with through mocking and butt slaps. If that doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, and some of the reaction to the film suggests that’s a not insignificant portion of potential viewers, then maybe skip this one.
Saying this however, the prospect of watching bros be bros for two hours has certain level of danger to it but thanks to some pretty damn fine casting, the whole thing works very well. Lead Blake Jenner perfectly fulfils the big fish in a small pond, a guy who could be the best looking, most athletic kid in his high school now jostling with a bunch of fellow Alphas. Glen Powell ably plays the guy in the group who feels like everyone’s best friend, able to adapt to those around him and other social groups and being self-aware enough to realise that there’s more to college than purely girls and beer, though it won’t stop him from having a good time. Wyatt Russell is cleverly cast in a role which brings to mind a variant on a particular character from Dazed & Confused and exhibits all the charm and personality of his father and Temple Baker is a pure dumb but fun jock buffoon who provides some fantastic comic relief. The key here is that the guys together form a bunch who yes, you would get tired of very quickly in real life but among the weed smoke and booze you could have a great laugh with them for a couple of hours.
The film’s relationship with women is a little troublesome here but again, it feels like Linklater just about gets away with it here. It is made clear that the women the guys encounter know their effect on men and many of them use it, some of them giving as good as they get from the guys. Zoey Deutch is a charismatic presence as the main love interest here and it is given plenty of space to make an impression and standout as a girl who could well be worth the effort.
Everybody Wants Some!! is a cracking “hang out” movie and maybe nothing more than that. With nothing all that profound to say it’s a different beast from Linklater’s recent work but that still doesn’t make it more than worth a watch. With rock solid performances and a lot of solid laughs, I’d have watched for another hour and that’s not something said all that often.