The 80s are back! Yes, that’s right the era of cheesy pop music, frizzy hair-dos and John Hughes movies is back in style and fashion (oh boy the fashion) in 2016. In recent years, I have noticed, and critics can concur, the increasing rise of films, television shows and even books been set in the 80s or being nostalgic about the 80s. Now, nostalgia isn’t anything new. Every generation has its own nostalgia about how it was back then – the good ol’ days. In the late 2000s and early 2010s there was a lot of nostalgia about the 90s. Now, the nostalgia of the 90s is continuing its revival con-currently with the preceding decade, the 80s. Having been born in 1996, I have no memory of the 80s because I did not exist nor do I have any memories of the 90s because I was a toddler for the final three years of the decade. So I have no nostalgia for the 80s and 90s because I have no memory of either and did not exist in the former. However, I have developed a deeper love and interest in the history and pop culture of the 80s. Two of my favourite television shows on right now and of all time are The Americans and Fargo. Season 2 of Fargo, the show inspired by the 1996 Coen Brothers’ film of the same name, is set in 1979 and across its four seasons, The Americans has taken place from 1981 to 1984. The neoliberal politics which emerged in this decade fronted by American president Ronald Reagan and British prime minister Margaret Thatcher make the decade quite a difficult troubling time, one you wouldn’t necessarily gather from the prevailing image of a bright, neon-coloured and fabulous time we often get in mainstream pop culture. Richard Linklater’s Everybody Wants Some!! does not explore the fear of cold war tensions amidst the beer chugging and immature antics the characters in Everybody Wants Some!! indulge in. However it is profound in a Linklater way and a whole lot more than sentimental nostalgic fare.
Richard Linklater has mastered the art of writing dialogue as far as I’m concerned. The Before trilogy films are among my favourite films of all time and Boyhood is a masterpiece of the 21st century. As an amateur, unprofessional writer, it excited me when I first watched Before Sunrise. The dialogue was so well written, profound but not pretentious in addition to the amazing chemistry between the characters, it was note perfect. Even before knowing who Linklater was, School of Rock was one of my favourite comedies as a kid and remains so. Of course, Jack Black’s performance was excellent but the dialogue combined with the performances and chemistry made the film undeniably charming. All of Linklater’s films are charming even if I don’t directly relate or even like a character in one of his films, the overall film still charms me over. And Everybody Wants Some!! is no exception.
Everybody Wants Some!! is a loosely autobiographical film in the same way many of Linklater’s films are and is set in Texas in the autumn of 1980, the year he and the protagonist, Jake (Blake Jenner) went to university. Everybody Wants Some!! follows the general formula of most of Linklater’s films. It is a loose plot-wise and meandering but it often has some personal wisdom about life emerging from beyond the jock surface level. I don’t think Linklater has any revolutionary philosophical ideas about life nor is this what he intends to convey in his films. Instead, the simplicity of the philosophy of Richard Linklater is what makes it profound in a sense. Linklater achieved new heights in the history of cinema with his 2014 film Boyhood, an all-encompassing narrative about a boy’s life. Boyhood isn’t special because it encapsulates the entire scope of the human condition – no film can do that but Boyhood has been one of few films to get so close. Where, Boyhood was about capturing the perspective of a boy growing into a young man, Everybody Wants Some!! picks up where it left off with the fact that we never stop growing as individuals even though our bodies have stopped growing.
Although, Jake, a college (university) freshman can be a substitute for Mason at the end of Boyhood, Everybody Wants Some!! has been described by Linklater as a spiritual sequel to the 1993 cult classic Dazed and Confused. Dazed and Confused followed the incoming freshmen who are hazed on the last day of school in 1976. Everybody Wants Some!! takes place four years later in 1980 as Jake and three other college freshmen, Billy (Will Brittain) – hilariously nicknamed “Beuter” because of his redneck accent – Plummer (Temple Baker) and Brumley (Tanner Kalina). Although, not a direct sequel, Everybody Wants Some!! bares a lot of similarity with Dazed and Confused and they explore some of the same ideas however, for all the ideas there’s a lot more fun. For example, the opening scene beginning with the camera moving in from an aerial shot and tracking a lone blue 80s-looking car cruising down the road to independence. The distinct drum beat from The Knack’s 1979 hit “My Sharona” lets us the audience know that we’re on a ride back to the early 80s. And the spirit of the 80s is perfectly captured in Everybody Wants Some!!
There is a plot to Everybody Wants Some!! but it’s used as more of a device to guide the protagonist, Jake, as he begins to think about his individuality and identity now that he’s independent. Jake and the rest of the baseball team, spend the 3 days before class starts getting into misadventures. They have a party and go to several music venues: a disco club, a country bar and a punk room. Like Dazed and Confused and other Linklater films, music is an important aspect of the film and helps us in creating and discovering our identities. Jake even mentions that shouldn’t they have an identity crisis having been to such different places in a short span of time and I think Linklater’s answer is that a particular interest doesn’t make you who you are, it can be a huge part of your identity but your whole individuality is made up of all the things that you experience.
Jake was a hotshot pitcher in high school but now he’s moved into a house he will be sharing with other members of the Southeast Texas Cherokees college and at the bottom of the totem pole. Everybody Wants Some!! has an absolutely stellar cast mostly full of unknowns, probably the most famous is Tyler Hoechlin, actor in Teen Wolf, as Glen McReynolds, the overly competitive de facto leader with a killer still in style then moustache. Blake Jenner, affable and charming, as the protagonist, Jake and Glen Powell as Finnegan, the charismatic womaniser much to the ridicule of his team. And the supporting actors also deliver, Ryan Guzman as Kenny Roper, handsome and witty, Wyatt Russell as Willoughby, perfect as pseudo-philosophical stoner and preacher of Carl Sagan, Will Brittain as Billy Autrey, nicknamed “Beuter” the naive redneck and target of many hilarious disses, Forrest Vickery as Coma, also very funny and Temple Baker as Plummer, dim-witted but hilarious with lines delivered with a perfect gravelly voice. In addition, there’s Tanner Kalina as Brumley, clueless and delivered with very funny lines, Austin Amelio as Nesbit, somewhat unstable but with great period-friendly moustache, Juston Street as Jay Niles, also unstable delivered with an hilariously intensity and finally Quinton Johnson as Dale as the wise-cracking black dude who isn’t token make up this ragtag college baseball team. So when Jake meets Beverly, played by Zoey Deutch, he is able to express his individuality and everything it encompasses. Zoey Deutch is wonderfully sweet as the theatre student, who Jake falls in love with. And Jake falls in love with her because she is someone who expresses herself individuality in all its quirks and he begins to do so towards the end of the film thus growing as an individual.
It’s easy to write off Everybody Wants Some!! because of some of the douchebaggy behaviour displayed by the guys on the baseball team. It’s undeniable and they might not be immediately likeable. Yes, we’ve seen it before but not quite like this. The scene where they rap Sugarhill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight”, the first ever hip-hop hit, had me grinning ear to ear and will be in my mind for a long time. Richard Linklater brings his own brand of personal philosophy, the fun aspects of a bygone but slowly returning era, and the chemistry and charm between the characters altogether makes for a hilariously fun ride and potential future classic. Everybody Wants Some!! how ’bout you?
Written by Emmanuel Omodeinde