Richard Linklater knows a lot about growing up. He's made several films that key on that very process, the latest one being "Everybody Want Some!!" Following is the review of Linklater's film that I wrote for Spokane Public Radio:
When Bruce Springsteen sings about those “Glory Days,” he’s not looking back with fondness. He’s lamenting the kind of life that peaks too soon, one that no longer involves being good at baseball, being the attractive one in high school or even just being someone with a steady job.
Filmmaker Richard Linklater is noted for making films that look back. Unlike Springsteen, though, Linklater doesn’t tend to bemoan the experience. In 1993’s “Dazed and Confused,” he remembers the good and the bad – but mostly the good. Same with “Boyhood,” his Oscar-nominated 2014 film that – shot over a dozen years – follows a boy as he progresses through adolescence.
Now we have “Everybody Wants Some!!” Linklater’s nostalgic look at life as, presumably, he experienced it in college. And if the title itself isn’t clue enough that Linklater is far from lamenting anything, the fact that he places not just one but two exclamations points at the end of it certainly does.
Set a few days before college term begins in 1980 – slightly more than four years after the “Dazed and Confused” end-of-high-school party – “Everybody Wants Some!!” centers on Jake (played by Blake Jenner). Arriving on his Texas campus, Jake heads for a house set up especially for the school’s baseball team.
Once there, he is quickly drafted into the testosterone-laced atmosphere of 1980s-era Texas athletics, which includes everything from an I-hate-pitchers attitude (Jake IS a pitcher) to ritualized rule-breaking (from drinking to smoking dope to hosting young women on the taboo second floor) and impromptu philosophizing.
That latter activity is practiced by everyone, whether espousing a coda regarding the correct way to woo women or spotting the secret pro scout who supposedly haunts their every practice – but it is practiced best by the older-and-seemingly-wiser Finnegan (played by Glenn Powell) and the surfer-boy/pothead transfer Willoughby (played by Wyatt Russell, the son of Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn).
Though clearly no pushover, freshman Jake is open to all of it. He’s especially drawn to the charms of another freshman, a performing arts major named Beverly (Zoey Deutch), who – unlike almost all of Linklater’s other films – is the movie’s sole talking/thinking female character.
And that points to the weakness of “Everybody Wants Some!!” Yes, it does portray a campus in which the “Everybody” of the film’s title seems to include women, at least in terms of what they want. Yet other than Beverly, only the guys get to talk about it.
Further, even in Texas, racial issues weren’t exactly unheard of in 1980. Yet other than a few extras, Linklater gives us a sole black character, Dale (played by J. Quinton Johnson). Dale ambles from one sequence to the next – even dancing in a country bar – with no sense of racial resentment. It’s nice to think this could be the case, but it doesn’t exactly reflect reality.
So, yes, “Everybody Wants Some!!” is a loving look back. And, at times, it is hilariously politically incorrect. But we’ve come to expect more from Linklater than a simple, genial recollection of his own “glory days.”