“Everybody Wants Some!!” is surprisingly thought-provoking

Richard Linklater delivers retro-college, bro-hangout flick

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In his follow-up to "Boyhood," Richard Linklater, in his typical laid back yet thought-provoking style, puts a retro spin on the classic college flick. The movie, which captures the weekend before classes begin at a Texas university, has been described as a spiritual sequel to "Dazed and Confused" as well as a thematic sequel to "Boyhood." Both labels certainly fit.

The story follows freshman Jake (Blake Jenner), a new varsity baseball pitcher, as he adjusts to college life with his hypercompetitive new team in the weekend before classes start.The story begins with the team drinking together, competing over everything and going to every party to meet girls. The plot is definitely a bro-focused look at college, but Linklater adds some excellent depth by engaging with existential themes, such as the meaning of life. Jake’s answer hinges on his tribe of good friends and a passion to focus on. The result is a movie much more affecting than a simple weekend with the bros.

The 1980s college backdrop not only reflects the story's setting, but also its style — the movie's scenes of the team hanging out and partying are reminiscent of more than a few 80s college movies. The over-the-top excess is gone, but the constant focus on partying is still there. As a result, the events of the movie comprise one long party, reminiscent of a mellow University Block Party or a night at Myrtle Beach’s fine night-time establishment, the Spanish Galleon.

The laidback vibe remains even as the parties get bigger and more fantastic, reflecting Linklater's constant focus on character development. The movie’s tone is nostalgic in its depiction of college as a paradise for parties, friends and no worries. It goes without saying that the soundtrack is great, fittingly differentiating the niches on display.

The acting is also authentic all around. The team is filled with contrasting and conflicting personalities, from the silver-tongued Finnegan to the aggressively eccentric Jay. Jake makes for a likable and interesting protagonist and audience surrogate. The best scenes unfold when the team is just hanging out and competing over the little things. These scenes feel authentic and can be quite funny.

The film has very few noteworthy female characters since Linklater is squarely focused on the boys. However, the depth of the story deepens as Beverly, Jake's love interest, becomes his spiritual companion.

Later on in the film, the focus shifts to the nature of passion and the development of circles of friends. People often do silly and ridiculous things with complete strangers when they first arrive on campus, hoping to find a supportive group of friends that will last beyond the college safety net. In order to highlight this point, Linklater shifts the film's focus away from the baseball team and onto the development of individuals as they change during college. The film is its best when that group is tied together by a passion that can give real value and purpose to day-to-day existence.

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