In a round table interview with the Technique, actors Blake Jenner (“The Truth in Being Right”), Tyler Hoechlin (“Road to Perdition”) and Will Brittain (“The Doo Dah Man”) emphasized the sheer joy behind the scenes of this late 70s cultural revival. Dubbed the “spiritual sequel” to the classic coming-of-age comedy “Dazed and Confused” (1993), “Everybody Wants Some!!” follows the absurd ventures of a college baseball team gearing up for the first week of classes. Director Richard Linklater (“Dazed and Confused,” “Boyhood”) frames the vast opportunity and endless excitement of a college campus through the inexperienced eyes of his protagonist Jake (Blake Jenner, “Supergirl,” “Glee”), a passive, awkward and observant freshman.
Linklater proved his unmatched attention-to-detail with 2014’s “Boyhood,” which boasted a dazzling twelve year production timeline, and he carried this dauntless determination to the set of “Everybody Wants Some!!” According to Tyler Hoechlin (McReynolds, “Teen Wolf,” “Road to Perdition”), “Rickipedia,” as the cast called him, spewed knowledge of the culture and happenings of the 1970’s, saturating his millennial actors with a deep understanding of
Pink Floyd, disco moves and light-wash jeans.
Zoey Deutch (“Vampire Academy,” “Beautiful Creatures”) contributes a strong female lead as Beverly, Jake’s love interest and a foil to the more stereotypical sexual conquests of the college jock lifestyle (i.e. picking up girls at an outrageous disco or at a country bar with a mechanical bull). She portrays a free-spirited performing arts student, another contrast to the sports-loving guys, and another factor to add to the melting pot of opportunities and experiences that is college.
Other specific performances in this feature do not necessarily stand out, but the cast demonstrates a rare dynamism perfect for depicting a college baseball team cranking out one boorish joke after another.
How does Linklater accomplish this? A simple football game. When the cast first met for rehearsals, they began to gel with a hearty game of catch on Linklater’s farm. As Jenner remarks: “he’s a bro.” The actors at the Technique’s round table interview further confirmed the cast became close friends, enabling a unique and effective style of back-and-forth, unforced comedy.
The layout of “Everybody Wants Some!!” is as fastidious as Linklater’s propagation of 1970’s culture: the film paces itself carefully to build up a mountain of excitement. Each scene throws a bit more onto the pile, from the first night out to the first baseball practice, Jake and the others gel more and more, growing as a team and as a cast, enabling a “brotherhood and camaraderie … on the screen,” as Jenner said. Their singular dynamic allows for Linklater to illustrate his intended ideal of college as a breaking of new ground — a chance to define yourself and have some fun along the way.
The glass ceiling of raunchy comedy films thickens with each trashy movie released. What Linklater accomplishes is a jovial cinematic experience, but this particular genre does not necessarily permit great films to shine through. That would take an absolute miracle.
Is this newest film to be fantastic when propped up next to masterpieces? No, and it unfortunately could not break through the ceiling. It does what it intends though: throwing aside the need for critical appeal and plucking up the inner child in the viewer.
While remaining as somewhat of a stupid bit of college comedy, Richard Linklater’s latest outing is a delightful celebration of youth. “Everybody Wants Some!!” culminates in a burst of color: an eruption of opportunity that converges into what feels like a pilot episode. This refreshing genre revival in the spirit of “Animal House” and (obviously) “Dazed and Confused” is well worth the trip to the theater in exchange for a few laughs and a whole lot of optimism.