Everybody Wants Some!! opens with college newbie Jake (Blake Jenner) on route to his new student home, rolling through the sun-kissed streets in his vintage car, with The Knack’s “My Sharona” blaring out of the windows. It’s effortlessly cool, irresistibly groovy, and it sets the tone perfectly. Welcome to the 1980s, the home of great music, dodgy style choices, and all round good times. Hence the double exclamation marks in the film’s title!!
Jake is moving into your typical student house, one that’s creaking under the weight of its resident’s additions (read: “sexy” waterbed), but also one that’s stocked with beer and primed for shenanigans. His roommates, like him, are the elite of America’s baseball playing youth, each desperate to hit the big time, with college being their path to the pros. But college hasn’t started yet, so the first thing on the agenda is, of course, partying. And party they most certainly do. The opening half of the film is high on energy and vibrancy, if a little low on stakes. Boys will be boys – and for now, they just want to have fun. And whilst it definitely is fun, with the constant noise comes a lack of clarity as to who is actually who, meaning that Jake’s new friends largely interchange initially. It’s in the quieter asides that we really start to see their individuality, and the strength of the cast collectively.
In a lot of respects it has much in common with writer/ director Richard Linklater’s previous film, Boyhood (2014). That was a film which, like Everybody Wants Some!!, doesn’t really have a through line, or even an arc, necessarily. As with Boyhood’s Mason (Ellar Coltrane), Jake’s life just sort of…ticks along. And Linklater quietly adds layers of meaning and a surprising amount of depth to what starts as such a simple yarn. Almost stealthily, Everybody Wants Some!! goes from being about seemingly not much at all, to covering the formative years of youth, love, coming of age, and identity. It doesn’t quite have the poignancy of Boyhood, but it does have charms of its own. Not to mention a killer soundtrack, ranging from Pat Benatar to Van Halen.
Towards the close a professor silently wanders into his class, and writes the words “frontiers are where you find them” on the chalkboard. Six words which completely sum up Everybody Wants Some!!. We spend the duration counting down to the start of college, waiting for Jake to step over the line into the next stage of his life, to manoeuvre from childhood to adulthood. And yet in reality, he already made those first exploratory steps the moment that he moved in with his newfound friends. Before the bell had rung for his very first class, in the heady days leading up to that point, he made choice after choice about who he is, and who he wants to be. He found his new frontier, and he’s exploring it head on.
Rating (out of 5):