“We Came For A Good Time, Not A Long Time…”
Hands up who has watched Dazed and Confused? No, not the 30 minute extended jam featured on Led Zeppelin’s The Song Remains The Same which included Jimmy Page finding a hermit on top of a mountain and playing a six minute guitar solo with a violin bow, but instead Richard Linklater’s coming of age drama released all the way back in 1993 which featured a young Ben Affleck, Milla Jovovich and Matthew McConaughey in possibly his earliest iconic role with the three famous words of “Alright, alright, alright”. Oh yeah, we love it and although the first time I watched Dazed and Confused was within a double header of it and American Graffiti, the slightly better of the two, watching it began my love affair with coming of age dramas, films which took the everyday notions of childhood, college, school and friendship and made something which many could connect to on a very personal level indeed. Now with Everybody Wants Some!!, the self proclaimed spiritual sequel to both Dazed and Confused and Boyhood, Richard Linklater has once again managed to achieve that sense of sheer joy that resonated within me the first time I watched films like The Breakfast Club and American Graffiti. Gear up your vinyl’s, grab your record player and follow Mr. Linklater into the 1980’s.
Alerting us of the era straight from the get-go, Everybody Wants Some!! begins with the riff-laden pop-rock of The Knack’s “My Sharona”, accompanying Blake Jenner’s Jake as he rides into college territory and swiftly gazes with sheer disbelief at the female population within the confines of his new home. Arriving at his living quarters, we are introduced to the posse of baseball obsessed teens that encompass the entirety of the movie’s runtime, a collection of personalities of which gives everyone in the film a sense of three dimensional characterisation. As Jules in Pulp Fiction states, “personality goes a long way” and the sheer delicacy to which Linklater has created the wide range of characters within the film is a testament to himself as both writer and director. If Jenner’s sometimes creepy lead character can sometimes be regarded as somewhat of a mild mis-step, then the simply charming selection of characters such as Glen Powell’s Finnegan and Quinton Johnson’s Dale more than make up for it in the long run.
Add into the mix the vast array of cracking 1980’s tunes with contributions from a range of genres ranging from Blondie to Van Halen, Chic to Pink Floyd and Queen to Pat Benatar, Everybody Wants Some!! is most definitely Linklater’s ode to college life of that time, with each minor details, from handshakes to fashion sense, creating a sense of immense personal pride. Where the film may draw detractors is in the film’s portrayal of women, with all but one character in the film having more than just a two-dimensional reason for inclusion yet the entire purpose of the movie is to draw on Linklater’s own experiences and memories, with anything other than being minimally factual being ultimately not part of the plan. It’s college in the US from the point of view of testosterone-inflicted teenagers, what do you expect? With continual laughs all the way through and a deep sense of wanting to spend more and more time in the company of our competitive heroes, Everybody Wants Some!! is a real coming-of-age treat, one that carries on the memory of Dazed and Confused rather effectively and impressively. Seek it out.
Overall Score: 8/10