Everybody Wants Some!!: NZIFF Review
If Linklater's Boyhood was the tortured route to adolescence made magnificent by its 150 minute canvas, Everybody Wants Some!! is the tonal antithesis, a tacit recognition that the good times do eventually come.
It's 1980s Austin and the weekend before college classes first begin. It's a time of infinite possibility, of freedom and as the very first scene sets out, of music.
The film follows freshman Jake (Blake Jenner) as he joins the baseball team ready for his first year of classes, boozing and bro-ing. Set over the first weekend before it all kicks in, it's a hedonistic 72 hours of trying to fit in, finding your place and falling in love, all against a nostalgic backdrop of disco bars, endless bongs and beers and typical jostling competitive jockeying chat.
But before you dismiss Richard Linklater's latest as just another variation of Dazed and Confused, soaked in the fashions and sounds of the time, don't. This paean to male bonding, to the competitive nature of the pack and of finding your place in the world after being a hotshot at school and placed in a world full of hotshots, is a pure blast of breeziness.
While the ensemble cast are good among their horrific moustaches and paisley decked fashion gear, it's Jenner and Glenn Powell as Finn who stand out. Jenner with his fresh-faced innocence is our everyman but he never plays it goofy; and Powell is the good-time, good guy who espouses advice and is the glue that holds them all together. Sure, we have the goofball power-crazed nut in the form of Juston Street's Niles, all terrible hair and red glasses, but even he's infused with a team ethos and a desire to fit in that his character quickly goes from Napoleon Dynamite caricature to one of the gang by the end of the weekend.
As the sole girl who's not one of the endless parade of women hit on by all the guys, Zoey Deutch as an arts student that Jake falls for is a breezy charm in an auburn haired package - sweet and disarming but with an innocence that college romances are made of, her presence is a welcome bookend and with Jake's confession to his bros that he "likes her", you know these two will be college sweethearts.
But in among the banter, the discussion over booze and bongs, it's Linklater whose eye for period detail stands out.
Whether it's the spot-on music choices (opening with the Knack's My Sharona and an open road is inspired) or the accurate detail of the arcade from its KISS pinball to its Space Invaders, every detail of this era rings reminiscent and true. However, he also injects a geniality into his protagonists and casts a humanity over them that makes the 2 hours engaging and alive - and almost has you devastated when the weekend ends and the tedium of school begins.
Everybody Wants Some!! is veritable keg party of a film that speaks to freedom of youth; granted its light and breezy narrative and broad tone may feel slight to some, but it's a tacit admission to what makes growing up's experiences so important, an autobiographical film of growing up to fit in as a bookend to Boyhood, and a film soaked in such nostalgic hues that you can't fail to be moved into memory by its antics and its ethos of being on a team among the vitality of friends as you get ready for life's curveballs.