Richard Linklater’s follow up to Boyhood is very Richard Linklater. Its weaknesses are also its strengths. An ambling, warm, Texan nostalgia trip, Everybody Wants Some!! (the double exclamation point is meant to be there) starts where Boyhood ended. We follow a young, thoughtful protagonist, Jake (Blake Jenner) moving to college, meeting his new room mates and pursuing a girl.
The big difference, it should be noted, is that Everybody Wants Some!! takes place in the early 80s. As such, the whole exercise is dripping in nostalgia. There’s obvious period nostalgia; funny haircuts and classic rock feature heavily. More importantly, the movie is nostalgic for youth itself. Leering at girls is remembered fondly as are young lads leering at themselves, at their own young forms, in the mirror before going out. It’s very much an older guy’s memories of what it was to be a young man. Every night is a potential adventure, every girl a potential conquest and all things seem possible.
The portrayal of a group of young, rowdy lads will be too ludicrously rose tinted for many people to care. Most people’s real world experience of this type of thing is often less ‘voyage of self discovery’ and more ‘obnoxious temple bar stag do assholes’. Still, the warmth here is worth letting in. While the characters are mostly stereotypes Linklater finds interesting things, even, perhaps, nuance within the broad. Most of this comes in the form of paying attention to the absurdly competitive mindset within groups of young males. The attention to these rituals is well observed and the joke is frequently on those who don’t understand the code of behaviour. There are subtle rules to this boneheaded game. Another way that this feels human is that none of the apparent bad guys are, it turns out, actually that bad. There are no dickheads here, merely idiots.
The almost-not-there plot takes the form of a series of picaresque adventures through different subsets of 80s Americana interspersed with solid gags. Our heroes all adapt, with relative ease, to any setting, be it a country Western bar, disco dance floor or punk mosh pit. Any concerns, such as a black character’s hesitancy to attend said country Western bar are brushed aside instantly and are, thankfully, unfounded. Everyone’s there for a good time. The subculture tourism doesn’t lead to much drama but does lead to a great soundtrack.