After spending 12 years making Boyhood, Richard Linklater couldn't be blamed for doing something lighter, just for fun. But nothing Linklater does is ever just for fun, leading to the deceptively deep college jocks comedy Everybody Wants Some!!
Billed as a "spiritual sequel" to his 1993 cult hit Dazed and Confused, it's more like the flip side to that film's 1970s scholastic anthropology. Set in 1980, Everybody Wants Some!! turns from marginal high schoolers to certified collegians, not exactly the best minds of their generation but high-caliber baseball players.
In my day, these social tribes were labeled "jocks" and "freaks," divided by pastimes yet united by uncertainty of who or what we were or if we even cared. The rowdies of Everybody Wants Some!! successfully navigated the high school scene then stepped into another minefield of identity forging, future building and, of course, getting laid.
Linklater's movie is ostensibly about the latter goal, modeled after lowbrow '80s college comedies ripping off National Lampoon's Animal House. On the surface, it's just an assortment of mega-testo males on the make, living debauched off campus and treated like royalty because they're the school's only winning team.
New to the wolfpack is Jake (Blake Jenner), a freshman pitcher who packed his letterman's jacket, giving the upperclassmen something to rag about. Just teammates bonding, crudely and rudely, without any plot to matter until Linklater's theme slowly reveals itself.
Each member of this animal household is a facet of '80s jockism, from Tyler Hoechlin's preening slugger in a Burt Reynolds mustache, to Glen Powell as a Kerouac-reading pipe smoker who probably watched Tim Matheson's Otter too often. Nobody likes the obnoxiously intense Raw Dog (Juston Street), and freshman bumpkin Beuter (Will Brittain) is on thin ice.
Everything in this animal house is a competition, from bong hits to bloody knuckles. Linklater follows a last, lascivious weekend before classes begin, turning their odyssey into a microcosm of '80s pop culture. One night the guys cruise a disco, a country bar the next, a punk dive later. Pick ups and turn downs, a costume for each occasion.
The movie is remarkably designed in '80s fashion by Bruce Curtis, and Linklater dotes on each artifact. His soundtrack is jammed with the era's sonic booms; My Sharona setting the tone, Sugar Hill Gang scoring a key scene, a little Cheap Trick here, Donna Summer there.
Amid this commotion, Linklater locates a spark of maturity in Jake, whose interest in Beverly (Zoey Deutch) gradually becomes the heart of his movie. Their split-screen flirting is an extended sequence that still ends too soon.
Everybody Wants Some!! is as playfully raunchy as any sex comedy doubling down on exclamation points can be. Like its kindred predecessor, it's also wise about basically good people being dazed and very confused. In fact, I'd argue that one character here is Matthew McConaughey's character still chasing girls, now in college, who stay the same age while he gets older.
Contact Steve Persall at [email protected] or (727) 893-8365. Follow @StevePersall.