For those who know his films best, Richard Linklater represents a vision of America sweetened by nostalgia and hazy sunsets. Buoyed by a sense of endearing and contagious optimism that companies films like The School of Rock and Dazed and Confused, there is a careful sense of the ability to exceed under circumstances both societal and personal.
Take Dazed and Confused, which Everybody Wants Some! is a ‘spiritual sequel’ to. It’s not a political film, but it still hinges on a sense of existential dread, of the future and reality outside of the classroom. Existing in a microcosm away from the hustle and bustle of real life, it explores the individuality of its characters by underpinning them with a fundamentally humaneness. Linklater does this like no one else. In Boyhood, we got the pinnacle of a Linklater character- a person who resists normality by being curious. Linklater is a director who likes to celebrate youth by also being aware of the adult world that lies ahead of each character.
Everybody wants Some!, Linklater’s latest film, set in the 80’s over the hazy weekend before another year of college starts, follows a squad of college baseball players that fulfil every character-type from American college movies. We have the freshmen, the lead jock, the stoner…all of whom share the same two interests in common- retaining their college’s position as baseball champions, and getting laid.
The plot is predictably loose; it floats around the characters but pays particular attention to Jake (played by Blake Jenner), a freshman pitcher by way of whom we are introduced into the baseball culture. Amongst the competitiveness, testosterone and continual chatter about sex, there is a wholesome quality to the film. The interactions are as trademark of the director, offbeat and entertaining, suiting the meandering, conversational pace that the film rolls to. There are laughs to be found, but the director’s Laissez-faire approach to filmmaking may be a bit heavy handed for some because we simply follow the team around. Character tropes are worn through to the point of being almost idealised, as though they are playing up to their stereotypes as much as the actors are.
But it would be perhaps a bit too short sighted to view Linklater as a director that laps up the banter for the sake of it. Everybody Wants Some! is contained in its own world, caught somewhere between an idealised, unashamedly americanised college experience and its era of record players and space invaders. It works well in the classic Linklater sense, through conversations sprouted and plucked from various aspects of its period and setting in order to inform us of its culture. It’s hard to tell if it merely portrays its excessively hedonistic environment or celebrates it, but it’s the films casual fluidity that keeps its 2 hour running time feeling light, breezy and a whole lot of fun. Don’t expect a judgemental approach from Linklater here on his most naturalistic element, or a sequential series of events. It’s simply film to tune one into its era and people – whether or not that’s a bad thing ultimately rests on the individual.