FEW filmmakers do nostalgia quite like Richard Linklater. 1993’s Dazed and Confused and the recent Boyhood in particular showed his singular skill of taking you to a time and place that feels both personal to him as a storyteller and universally relatable to the rest of us.
While Everybody Wants Some!! may not be vintage Linklater in the same league as those and many others of his repertoire, there’s nonetheless a world of wistful, charming, endearingly rambling fun to be had during this odyssey of ‘80s college nostalgia.
We centre on a group of college freshman baseball players who all move into a rickety old Texan house a few days before their official semester of classes and training begin. The prospect of becoming professional players is on the horizon but for the time being they are going to focus on what immediately matters to them: drinking beer, smoking pot, chasing girls and generally partying as much as possible, wherever that may take them.
There are immediate comparisons to be made to Dazed and Confused, Linklater’s eternally loveable portrait of the last day of school before the summer of 1976. This feels like a spiritual successor to that film in many ways, capturing much of the same laid back “hang out” essence, whether it’s in the killer rock soundtrack or the effortlessly cool and quotable interplay between the characters.
But it could also be viewed as a soulful – if not literal – continuation of the director’s most ambitious film, Boyhood, picking things up on that journey into the college years that act as a fresh jumping off point so full of promise and newfound freedoms.
Our anchor throughout this brief but potent college adventure is Jake (Blake Jenner), a fresh-faced and quite cocky freshman. He uses his boyish charm to integrate himself with the group as well as trying to work his way into the affections of Beverly (a particularly captivating Zoey Deutch), a girl who catches his eye not long after arriving on campus. There’s something of Linklater’s Before trilogy in the scenes between Jake and Beverly, with quiet moments of flirtation, introspective reminiscing and discussion of hopes for the future having a gentle sting of truthfulness about them.
That said it’s largely a film of boys will be boys, with all the laddish hijinks, immaturity and jibing camaraderie that comes with that as the gang saunter from hanging out sessions to baseball practice to wild partying and back again. Discos, country dancing, punk gigs — you name it. The film dips its toes into different worlds of letting go and having fun and, as an audience, it feels like we’re just one more group member tagging along for the ride.
The film might feel aimless at times but that’s part of its charm and, in fact, that rambling nature allows it to subtly work in little nuggets of truth and contemplative wisdom. Linklater’s typically relaxed, unobtrusive direction allows the characters and the nostalgic tone to speak volumes which makes for a joyous, irresistible piece of cinema.