If Van Halen was the soundtrack to your college life, chances are, you did a lot of partyin’.
It’s the dog days of summer and college freshman Jake (Blake Jenner) is getting ready for this new period in his life. He moves into the baseball house’s place, expecting for the next few days to be a wild ride of beer, sex, drugs, jams, and an overall good time. Obviously, he gets that, but he also gets a lot more. As expected, there’s a lot of colorful and wild personalities in the house – some good, others, not so much. There’s the seniors McReynolds (Tyler Hoechlin), Finnegan (Glen Powell), Roper (Ryan Guzman), and Dale (Quinton Johnson), who clearly prove their dominance over everyone in the house, so that each and every underclassmen knows their place in the house. But at the same time, it’s still just a bunch of fun and games where the guys go out at night, cruising for ladies, and wherever the next party is. Meanwhile, Jake sets his sights on the cute and lovely Beverly (Zoey Deutch), a girl he literally just meets on the first day, but can’t help himself from trying to go out with, even if he doesn’t know a single thing about her, other than that she’s cute and she’s going to the same school as he is.
Bros hang at the bars.
Everybody Wants Some!! has been referred to constantly as a sort of “spiritual sequel” to Dazed and Confused and it makes perfect sense. One, it’s written and directed by Richard Linklater, so already that makes sense. But once you get past that obvious fact, you take into consideration the rest of the movie and how it is, essentially, a near-two-hour film where people just talk, hangout, drink beer, party, smoke weed, try to get laid, and have some philosophical conversations about life, love, death and all of that other fine stuff that young people usually get into conversations with when they’re feeling a bit tipsy and self-important.
Does that make Everybody Wants Some!! nearly as good as Dazed and Confused?
No, not really. But it’s still a pretty solid movie in its own right.
Even if there is no substantial plot to really guide the movie along, it doesn’t matter. When you’re working with someone as smart and as deftly aware as Linklater, it’s hard to get caught up in all of the mechanics of plot; all that matters is that the character’s are at least somewhat interesting to listen to, or be around, and that the conversations that they have aren’t nauseating beyond belief. And yes, most of the characters here are fun to listen to be and be around, they’re conversations can be easy-listening, and Linklater himself doesn’t really push for anything too hard or too long. If anything, after the 12-year-ordeal he had with Boyhood, it feels like Linklater is taking some time to sit back, relax and just do what he does best, while having a great time with it all.
And yeah, it works. Everybody Wants Some!! is a very enjoyable movie in that nothing happens, but that doesn’t matter because you’re happy to be around these people and slightly compelled to see where they go, or what they do next. Sure, some of them are more likable and believable than others, but for the most part, Linklater treats each and every character with the perfect amount of love and respect that you get a sense that he probably knew people like this in real life, or at least wish he had.
Since there are so many characters here, too, it’s sometimes too hard to really make up which ones are more important than others, but Linklater himself does a nice enough job of giving them enough of a distinguishable personality that makes them easy to identify, or actually care about. Our lead, Blake Jenner’s Jake is a simple, easygoing, and almost dough-eyed freshman who is our typical conduit for a story like this; his personality isn’t big or exciting, he’s just here to be our eyes and ears for this story. Because, after all, why would we be told any of this, or better yet, how? Jenner himself is fine and is generally, a likable presence. Linklater doesn’t ask much of him, which works fine, for both the movie, as well as Jenner.
Bros hang in vans.
Everybody else around Jenner, on the other hand, are a lot more fun and exciting than him, in terms of characters and their performances.
Tyler Hoechlin’s McReynolds is super competitive and seems like every captain of every sports team ever, for good reasons, as well as bad ones; Glen Powell’s Finnegan is a lot deeper and more interesting than the other jocks on the team, but also knows how to blend in and have a great time no matter where he goes; Wyatt Russell’s Willoughby is the closest person to being Matthew McConaughey’s Wooderson, in that he’s always got something nutty to say, but always seems to be in absolute peace and mind with himself and his surroundings, and it’s rather sweet to see the kind of friendship he and Jake build over these two-to-three days together; Quinton Johnson’s Dale takes it a lot easier on the freshman and always seems to be having a great time no matter where he’s at, or what it is that he’s doing; Temple Baker’s Plummer is basically the idiot of the group, but also shows off smarts in other areas that are surprising, but ultimately believable and make the character more fun to watch; and Zoey Deutch’s Beverly, is fine because Deutch herself is charming, but really, is perhaps the weakest part of the movie.
And this isn’t to say that Linklater shouldn’t have had her around at all; I think for a movie such as this, where jocks are doing and saying the things that they do and say here, it’s good to have a female presence that’s smart, strong, and doesn’t always stick in line with what people generally think of when it comes to college girls. However, whenever the movie wants to focus on her and Jake’s growing relationship, the movie begins to close to a halt and get in the way of the better parts of the movie. Don’t get me wrong, I’m fine with Linklater wanting to take some time away from the bros and settle things down, but after about ten-to-twenty-minutes, it starts to wear out its welcome.
Which is to say that almost everything else about Everybody Wants Some!! is great, just not these parts.
Consensus: Everything you’ve come to learn, expect and love from Richard Linklater, is in full-effect with Everybody Wants Some!!, which will bring you back to the days of college, while simultaneously making you laugh and have a great time.
8.5 / 10
And bros especially hang in lakes. With beers, obviously.
Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire