A juvenile film with heart

by Dave Phillips

IT’S hard to believe that Richard Linklater’s coming of age classic, Dazed And Confused, is 23 years old this year.
Laden with low-brow humour and some very high philosophy, Linklater’s seminal film foggily explored that frontier between adolescence and adulthood.
What made it such a success was that it captured so poignantly a rich and vibrant stage of life.
Adolescence is a time that is full of existential musing, trying out roles and beliefs, testing boundaries, and learning about where we might fit into the world.
In a way, it is a shame that coming of age films like Dazed And Confused, that were watched by many of us as a rite of passage in our teenage years, tend to become synonymous with that time and stay mentally relegated to a shelf that we’re unlikely to visit very often.
Evidently (and thankfully), that adolescent part of Linklater is alive and well – and after the much deeper masterpiece that was Boyhood, he is returning to some wilder and more familiar ground with Everybody Wants Some!! (Cert 15A, 116 mins).
While Dazed And Confused focused on the last day of high school, Everybody Wants Some!! chronicles the weekend before class begins in college for a group of freshman students in Texas in 1980.
Linklater may have a tendency to focus on the freak and geek fringes, but this time around we are thrust into the alpha-male world of college baseball.
Despite the more macho surrounds, we still maintain the outsider’s perspective through Jake (Glee’s Blake Jenner), who is new to the team and must find his footing amid his ultra-competitive housemates, who are concerned above all else with three things: training hard, partying, and hooking up with women.
The hours pass by in the weekend, and we follow Jake through night clubs, house parties, baseball practice and eventually into class.
At each step we are meeting the motley crew that makes up the social scene in college. There’s a throwaway love interest for Jake, some necessary boundary setting among the housemates, and a couple of moments for him to prove himself.
But like most of Linklater’s work, this is a film that is thin on plot points, where the beauty is to be found in the casual interactions and conversations between characters.
While the bulk of the story follows Jake, there is time given to each member of the team – who each in their own distinctive way develops a solution to the perennial problem of trying to get laid.
If you’re expecting a more refined portrayal of women (or men) to develop as the film moves on, you’ll be disappointed.
Everybody Wants Some!! is unrepentantly a film about the single-mindedness of people at a certain age. Linklater is content to let the juvenile, testosterone-fuelled environment play out with little nuance and without any moral rebuke.
That will inevitably be a stumbling block for viewers, but if you can embrace the laddish nature, you’ll find some pearls of wisdom amid the jockstraps and sweat socks.
Think of this as an incredibly well-written sport comedy with some heart and insight, and you’ll be close to the mark.
The comedy is helped along by a tight cast, and by characters who may never develop, but who seem oddly perfect and instantly relatable.
Everybody Wants Some!! is Linklater laying aside the deeper issues explored in films such as Boyhood, and Before Midnight, and instead embracing the gleeful freedom of youth – with all the stupidity and wonder that it entails.
Sitting through a screening is like taking a journey back to simpler times, and for that reason it’s a highly recommended watch.
Verdict: 8/10

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