The 80s may have passed most of us by, demanding of a 90s cinephile a vicarious knowledge through classic dude flicks and high school shenanigans. But Richard Linklater’s latest venture into fun-loving dudedom is more than just a nostalgia piece, it’s a door to a bygone era and everyone is invited.
Everybody’s seen the classic high school/college cliches. Cliques pitted against each other, underdogs rising to the challenge, anti-authoritarian undertones. They tend to fit the same pattern and studios just regurgitate the same tried and tested formula. Same fish, different pond. But with Everybody Wants Some Linklater has created something refreshingly unique.
It’s a 115 minute feel-good nostalgia piece as one freshman pitcher finds his feet in a world of possibility: college baseball and college chicks.
Short cut denim shorts, promiscuity, an eye-opening personification of team spirit, peacocks galore and a refreshing underlying freedom of knowing that this isn’t a film about a college baseball team’s journey to the top, or even about one guy’s college woes. There is no definitive plot and it’s so full of spontaneous moments that feel instantly iconic that there’s very little to dislike, if anything at all.
Philosophical discussions are shattered by testosterone fuelled bravado and passionate romances. It really is incredible what a college student can get up to in the four days before classes start and how much they can learn about themselves. Which is exactly what Jake, played by Blake Jenner, finds out.
In one particular scene Jake explains how his new found unadulterated, unsupervised, and unencumbered lifestyle is having a profound effect on his outlook on life. There’s nothing to tie him down, no one to hold him back and only friends and experiences to strive for. His driving force is baseball, a neat comparison drawn with the myth of Sisyphus in a sweet college romance is at once baffling and endearing.
Such is the writing and direction of Linklater who has turned an incredibly familiar formula into something fascinatingly captivating leaving nothing but a big cheesy grin on your face just begging you to whistle Rapper’s Delight as you stroll back to your car.
There’s something inherently appealing about a group of young adults relishing the good times to the sights of butt hugging denim shorts, the adolescent twang of a primed keg stand and spiritually liberating bong sessions and lake swimming: an innocence since lost in life and cinema.
“freedom of innocent dude culture remains unencumbered even when the rules are inevitably broken”
Everybody Wants Some has the ability to appeal to both, a nostalgic 70s/80s audience (for which every aspect of Linklater’s latest is incredibly life-affirming). But it also has the ability to engage an audience that has lived the life of an American 80s student vicariously through the dude classics, myself included.
It’s easy to get lost in the fun-loving celebrations but somewhere just off screen Linklater has planted an incredibly powerful message about today’s youth culture and the burden of looming adulthood in the modern age.
It’s not quite strong enough to detract from the incandescent dudedom that Finnegan (Glen Powell), Willoughby (Wyatt Russell), McReynolds (Tyler Hoechin) and the rest of the first time chumps are so keen on running right up until graduation.But it isn’t supposed to be.
It’s never a buzzkill and the freedom of innocent dude culture remains unencumbered even when the rules are inevitably broken.
For all it’s bro vibes and alpha-male intimidation Linklater is still able to foster a special romance amidst the partying, baseball and cologne fumed disco grooves. Beverly, played by Zoey Deutch, and Jake share such a remarkable on-screen chemistry that against all logic one could easily be forgiven for coming away from this film expecting the same thing to happen to them: especially if you just so happen to be the quiet guy in the middle.
In this one instance Linklater manages to highlight all the different quirks about his characters and if there’s one thing Linklater does better than everybody else: it’s writing characters. We all have our favourites but Everybody Wants Some serves up so many great personalities it’s hard to pin one down.
We find ourselves laughing with all of them, feeling the rub of losing a spontaneous dude-off: whether that’s knuckles or bong hits. Picking up girls, talking about girls, playing baseball, talking about baseball, choosing a major, falling in love. All in a days work for an aspiring college student.
Perhaps Everybody Wants Some could be criticised for being a little contrite: nothing is ever that perfect. But Linklater has captured the essence of college life, discerned the spirit in which this rite of passage is undertaken and turned it into the feel-good movie of the year. There’s no shame and no judgement, just pure unadulterated fun.
The Must-see stroll into adulthood may never be this smooth, but there’s nothing to stop us enjoying the ride in what is perhaps, the last great dude movie.