April 14, 2016

CINEMA | Hazed and Confused – 'Everybody Wants Some!!'

"That's what I'm talking about, man."
Richard Linklater | Everybody Wants Some!!

Everybody Wants Some!! (with two exclamation points like the Van Halen song) is an undeniably fun, joyful film about the heightened experience of male bonding and college life in early 1980s Texas. Modelled as a spiritually successor to the sprawling 1970s high school set Dazed and Confused, Austin filmmaker Richard Linklater brings the same period authenticity and youthful aesthetic to this entry of his brand of character led cinema.

Glee actor Blake Jenner takes the Randall "Pink" Floyd role as the fresh-faced Jake, the freshman pitcher, as he and his teammates party it up the weekend before class starts in the summer of 1980. It's a hyper masculine film all about how young men bond featuring barely one female character of any substance. She's Zoey Deutch's Beverly, a theatre kid, who has great chemistry with Jenner and provides a nice contrast to the otherwise ultra masculine tone with her thoughtful, philosophical bent on youth.

The cast of mostly unknowns and only slightly famous young television actors is superb for their richness of character and depth, despite being an assortment of mostly pretty white young male actors. Tyler Hoechlin is a standout as the in-your-face and almost stereotypically macho baseball team leader in full bro mode from the go. Glen Powell and Wyatt Russell give different, laidback vibes to the team as the older, wiser playboy and affable stoner pitcher.

Linklater's continued use of timely music underscoring history and the experience of youth is once again splendid. It frames the film's male gaze nicely as a singular vision and point-of-view of young men looking to get some. Peppered throughout are extended musical scenes of disco, cowboy dancing, and early era rap full of energy and charm.

Everybody Wants Some!! is a warm and entirely pleasant look at a time and era of culture passed and never to be replicated. It's both amusing and oddly wholesome without any of the troubling undercurrents surely below the surface in 1980s Texas. It's so specific and full of seemingly non-ironic homoerotic, extremely gay undertones that could only exist in the recent past. It's so fun and charming in a way only Linklater could express with authentic storytelling and performances within a very particular time and place.

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