It is safe to assume that the Van Halen song, “Everybody Wants Some”, hasn’t appeared in a movie since it was used as the basis for a claymation sequence starring a hamburger in the 1985 comedy “Better Off Dead.” Thankfully, that is all that director/writer Richard Linklater’s latest slice of nostalgia has in common with that just over 30 year old movie.
Like many of his previous movies, Linklater’s “Everybody Wants Some” may be destined to become a cult classic. Unlike his previously overpraised, overrated, and over-long borefest, “Boyhood”, this movie has charm, loads of humor, and brazenly and unapologetically puts the experience of college on screen prior to political correctness smothering out fun of any kind.
“Everybody Wants Some” occurs in the fall of 1980 and revolves around a southeast Texas college’s baseball team. This virtually plotless movie is more focused on the showcase of personalities that flow in and out of the story, which uses freshman pitcher Jake (Blake Jenner) as the focal point. It covers his first few days at school before class begins and his introduction to teammates, who are loaded with quirk and all smartly portrayed, even if some are fairly one dimensional.
Among Jake’s new teammates are the verbose and Kerouac-reading Finnegan (Glen Powell), cocky, Magnum PI-stached senior McReynolds (Tyler Hoechlin), a pitcher on testosterone overload, Jay (Juston Street), and, of course, the lovable Pink Floyd afficionado/stoner, Willoughby (Wyatt Russell). There’s also Dale (J. Quinton Johnson), who seems to be the only guy on the team possessing a mental baseline based in reality.
Luckily, Jake isn’t alone and his fellow freshman help absorb some of the upperclassmen abuse. Most notably of Jake’s classmates is southern rube Beuter (Will Brittain), who spends most of his time on the phone with his high school girlfriend, drinking Lone Star, and putting huge chunks of tobacco in his lip.
Most of “Everybody Wants Some” revolves around one thing: sex. There are fantastic scenes of these guys hanging out, drinking beer, and being overly competitive in nearly every single aspect of life, but the pursuit of girls is the main theme. They do talk about baseball quite a bit, even though there isn’t one shot of the team playing or practicing until about 90 minutes in to the movie.
In between the juvenile moments, “Everybody Wants Some” has some highly insightful thoughts about growing up and how everything in life changes from moment to moment. When Jake brings up the fact that the team goes from a disco club to a cowboy bar to a punk rock concert in three consecutive nights being a sign that they are phonies, Finnegan calls it “adapting.”
Believe it or not, that is the story this movie is telling. Whether it’s a freshman baseball player realizing they are no longer the high school star or a theater major knowing they have to compete with the best of the best from hundreds of high schools, adapting is part of life. Even a few of the thicker baseball players realize that once college ends, so does their baseball career and they will yet again be forced to adapt to what life hands them.
Some may take issue with a houseful of guys chasing girls for two hours, but Linklater does a fantastic job of making all of them highly likable and justifies the actions of everyone. Sure, Jake is running around like a typical oversexed 18-year old guy, but his sweet, good-natured self comes out when he meets the highly intelligent Beverly (Zoey Deutch). Their attraction to each other is obvious from the start, but Linklater and the actors give them depth, which turns what would be a sleazy one-nighter in less intelligent fare into a burgeoning relationship that is a pleasure to watch.
With “Everybody Wants Some”, Linklater has pulled off something almost as rare as seeing a unicorn. This movie is loaded with sex-crazed, self-aware humans of either gender, yet not for one second does anyone become obnoxious or overly sentimental. It’s as if every character saw “Dazed & Confused” and has chosen “just keep living” as their own personal mantra.
“Everybody Wants Some” is everything you could ever want in a movie. It’s highly funny, incredibly smarter than you would ever expect, and even though it only shows three days of it, it’s one of the greatest college experience movies ever made. When the screen fades to black with one of best final shots in recent movie history, it’s genuinely upsetting because two hours isn’t enough time to hang out with this ragtag crew of jocks.