There have been literally tens of thousands of college comedies produced since the Americans invented cinema in 1385. They are usually rude, crude, crass, sexist and sometimes even funny, but they all pretty much follow the same conventions. And this new college-set comedy from Richard Linklater sticks closely to the conventions too – but it does so in a surpisingly fresh way.
Set in the summer of 1980, Everybody Wants Some!! hits the right note right from the word go, with the opening scene featuring The Knack's hit song My Sharona as Jake (Glee's Blake Jenner), the closest this film comes to a "lead" character, arrives at the (fictional) South East Texas State University three days before the college year begins. He's there on a baseball scholarship and comes in for a bit of razzing as he enters the house he'll be sharing with the other members of the team – not because he's a freshman, but because he's a pitcher. Ah yes, sporting rivalry among the jocks is a theme that runs throughout this movie – the guys compete almost constantly, whether its in sports, smoking dope or picking up girls. And that's how these lads spend their last weekend of freedom: partying, trying to get laid and just competing with each other any way they can.
In the hands of almost any other filmmaker, this would be yet another standard college frat-boy comedy. But Linklater is a master craftsman. Everybody Wants Some!! is a looser, more easy-going follow-up to his wonderful Boyhood of 2014, and he has said that it is a spiritual sequel of sorts to his 1993 high-school comedy Dazed and Confused. It's terribly funny, but also very sweet. The guys are full of bravado and testosterone, constantly chasing girls and engaging in all sorts of crude behaviour. But it's in no way offensive; the guys come across as exactly what they are, a bunch of teenaged boys stretching their wings as they try to find their place in the world. And though the film follows the usual college comedy conventions, it does turn them on their head at times. The guys may be jocks, but unlike many high school and college comedies, these jocks are not the villains of the piece - just a bunch of pretty normal blokes doing what blokes do, and often making themselves look like disckheads in the process. They can be lunkheads, yes, but they're lovable lunkheads, and Linklater knows how to perfectly puncture their pointless male posturing.
The cast itself feels like it, too, is full of freshmen. There are no "big" names here – the most well-known, apart from Jenner, is Zoey Deutch as performing arts student Beverly, who begins a sweet romance with Jake. (It's safe to say that we can possibly expect big things from the magnificently moustachioed Tyler Hoechlin, who looks astoundingly like a young Burt Reynolds). And for a film about a baseball team, full of ultra-competitive jocks who talk about baseball almost all the time, there is surprisingly little baseball actually played - just one practice session on the Sunday afternoon. But that's how Everybody Wants Some!! rolls - it teases, it amuses and it defies expectations. The look and feel of the film is perfect - the hair and fashions are perfect late-1970s – and the soundtrack is to die for (I was just 16 in 1980, so all these songs were the background to my youth). Sweetly funny and full of heart, Everybody Wants Some!! is pure joy from start to finish (be sure to sit through the credits) with a cast of actors who hit everything thrown at them straight out of the park. It's a nostaligia trip to a kinder, gentle era that you will thoroughly enjoy spending some time in.
EXTRAS: There's a Q&A with cast members Tyler Hoechlin and Glen Powell, and director Richard Linklater, filmed at the Glasgow Film Theatre (12:30); Everybody Wants Some!! More Stuff That's Not In The Movie (25:25); the featurette Rickipedia (3:57), all about Linklater's knowledge of 70s and 80s trivia; the featurette Baseball Players Can Dance (6:42); the featurette History 101: Stylin' The '80s (4:20); and Skills Videos (5:18).