My first days as an undergraduate student of the Korean Advanced Institute of Science and Technology were rather uneventful to say the least. While getting acquainted a bit with my two dormitory roommates, I just simply attended lectures and prepared for exams as demanded, and I kept spending considerable time on books and movies whenever my campus schedule was free. I did not have much interest in having friends or meeting girls (or boys, if you ask), and even joining a music club did not help my social life much.
That is the main reason why Richard Linklater’s new movie “Everybody Wants Some!!” felt quite alien to me from the beginning besides considerable cultural gaps, but I observed its colorful campus characters with a sort of anthropological interest, and I eventually found myself charmed by its good-natured comedy vibrating with humor and intelligence. These characters inhabit in a world far different from my good old campus life in the past, but they are funny and engaging guys to observe and care about, and the movie has plenty of enjoyable moments as they roll here and there around their campus during their few remaining carefree days.
It is the early fall of 1980, and Jake (Blake Jenner) is about to have his first day at a college in the Southeast Texas region, where he is going to play as a new member of its baseball team. Not long after he arrives at one of the two houses for team members, he gets himself acquainted with many of senior members including McReynolds (Tyler Hoechlin), Dale (J. Quinton Johnson), and Finn (Glen Powell), and he also meets his fellow new players including his roommate Billy “Beuter” Autrey (Will Brittain), who is often ridiculed for being your average Texan country boy.
Because there are only three days left before the beginning of their upcoming semester, everyone in the team is ready to have all the fun and excitement they can get during this brief period. At the team meeting, their coach emphasizes that 1) no alcohol is allowed and 2) they should be discreet with girls, but his words have already been disregarded even before he said, and the meeting is soon followed by a night party packed with bottles and, of course, girls.
Now this sounds like a generic R-rated college comedy, but, while it does not hesitate to hurl itself into debaucheries like mud-wrestling, Linklater’s screenplay is too smart and thoughtful to allow itself to fall into genre conventions. Jake and his teammates come to us as likable lads who simply want to enjoy themselves together, and we constantly get small and big laughs as observing numerous hilarious moments generated from the ceaseless dynamic interactions among these dudes. Sure, they often look silly and goofy as being a little too competitive in many other things besides baseball, but their brash and cocky behaviors are depicted with recognizable human traits, and some of these guys turn out to be more serious or intelligent than we thought.
As following their wild nights one by one, the movie gives us a vivid, amusing look into the cultural landscapes of the early 1980s. When they get kicked out of a local disco club because of a fight caused by one of them, they go to the other club instead just because they have still more time to spend, and the next scene reminded me of how persistent American country music has been for many years. When Jake comes across his high school friend, he and his several teammates are invited to a punk rock concert, and they understandably feel awkward in front of this emerging musical trend, though most of them manage to dress themselves fairly well for that occasion (I am more amused now by a certain accessory worn by Jake, by the way).
In the meantime, Jake gets closer to a girl he encountered during his first day at the campus. He and Beverly (Zoey Deutch) do not have many common things between them, but they click well with each other as getting to know more about each other. She invites him to a chic party held by her and her friends in the performing-arts department, and then there comes a sensitive moment as Jake and Beverly have a quiet private time together during the early next morning. Both of them are serious about what will be the next step for their life, and their intimate conversation took me back to what was exchanged between the two characters of “Before Sunrise” (1995), the first chapter of Linklater’s Before Trilogy.
Under Linklater’s seemingly laid-back but ultimately confident direction, the movie always sparks with spontaneity, and he draws the fabulous ensemble performance from his cast, which mainly consists of unknown young performers. I must admit that it was a bit difficult for me to distinguish one performer from another at first, but their characters become more distinctive along the free-flowing narrative of Linklater’s screenplay, and it is really pleasant to see how their individual performances effortlessly work together during one particular sequence later in the story.
Brimming with joyous energy, “Everybody Wants Some!!” invites us to have some good times with its youthful characters, and it will surely have its place right next to Linklater’s “Dazed and Confused” (1993). While the movie may look like a minor work compared to his exceptional achievement in “Boyhood” (2014), this is another delightful comedy film from Linklater, and you will not be disappointed by its funny, delicious slice of college life.