The Aisle Seat - Movie Reviews by Mike McGranaghan
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THE AISLE SEAT - by Mike McGranaghan


Everybody Wants Some!!

Everybody Wants Some!! has been described by director Richard Linklater as a “spiritual sequel” to Dazed and Confused, his 1993 comedy that documented the last day of high school for a group of students in the mid-'70s. That film was not exactly a box office hit – it made just under $8 million – but has gone on to achieve status as a modern classic. In part, this is due to the fact that many of its cast members rose to great fame, including Matthew McConaughey, Milla Jovovich, Ben Affleck, Parker Posey, and Renee Zellweger. The bigger part is that audiences eventually caught up to the joys of its freewheeling slice-of-life approach. Everybody Wants Some!! jumps ahead to the year 1980, while retaining the ensemble vibe and ambling charm.

The film takes place at an unnamed Texas college and follows a group of baseball players in the three days before classes start. The main character is Jake (Blake Jenner), a good-guy freshman who develops a serious crush on a theater major named Beverly (Zoey Deutch). Living in the players' house with Jake are super-confident jock McReynolds (Tyler Hoechlin), brainy pick-up artist Finnegan (Glen Powell), a “hayseed” nicknamed Beuter (Will Brittain), amiable stoner Willoughby (Wyatt Russell), and several others. Everybody Wants Some!! follows them as they bust each other's balls, party, and attempt to get lucky with the many beautiful co-eds on campus.

The single most important quality of Dazed and Confused is also the single most important quality here: Linklater's nostalgia for an era. Both films paint accurate, loving portraits of their respective times. The clothing, the lingo, the attitude, and the music are all faithfully, energetically recaptured. Everybody Wants Some!! pinpoints the way pop culture was trying to find itself in 1980, leading to an unlikely mishmash of styles. At various points in the movie, the guys go to a disco nightclub, the kind of country joint made popular that year by Urban Cowboy, and a punk rock show. A soundtrack of era-appropriate songs, including the Van Halen tune that provides the film with its title, helps to recreate the period feel in a way that practically makes you feel like you've hopped into a time machine.

Nostalgia in and of itself is meaningless. It really only makes an impact when generating a sense that everything we see and hear is personal. Linklater based Everybody Wants Some!! on his own memories, and the result is like listening to the director reminisce about some really influential events in his life. There's no plot here, and by conventional standards not much happens, yet every second is packed with significance. You can feel the personal nature of the material shining through. Jake must certainly possess the same qualities that a young Linklater did. The other characters are surely based on people he knew, because they're so specifically drawn. The conversations they have are too real to be fully scripted; these things had to have been spoken in some form, at some time.

Of course, Linklater's gift as a filmmaker is in making specific memories universal. Whether or not you were college age in 1980 (and, for the record, I was twelve), you can fully identify with almost everything that takes place. For instance, there is a fairly lengthy scene in which a carload of the guys drive around singing along to “Rapper's Delight.” We've all done something just like that with our friends, even if it wasn't in that time or to that song. Everybody Wants Some!! is filled with moments exactly like this, where you relate to the youthful, carefree spirit Linklater so carefully evokes.

It will be interesting to see if the actors in this movie go on to the same kind of success that those in Dazed and Confused did. Every single one of them is perfectly cast, each creating a fully three-dimensional character no matter how much screen time they get. Wyatt Russell (son of Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn) is a comedic standout as the blissful stoner, while Tyler Hoechlin (MTV's Teen Wolf) perfectly plays one of those Big Men on Campus types who radiate self-confidence, bordering on arrogance. As Jake, Blake Jenner (Glee) proves to be amiable and sincere – qualities that make him a perfect guide into this world.

The movie could have used at least one more strong female character. Beverly – well played by Deutch, who is the daughter of actress Lea Thompson and Pretty in Pink director Howard Deutch – is the only woman of real note. The others are either very minor, or serve as sexual conquests for the guys. That issue aside, Everybody Wants Some!! is sharp, funny, and infectiously nostalgic. In the final moments, some words are written on a blackboard. They represent the film's theme, literally spelled out for the audience. Those words ring as true for us in 2016 as they do for Jake in 1980.

( 1/2 out of four)

Everybody Wants Some!! is rated R for language throughout, sexual content, drug use and some nudity. The running time is 1 hour and 57 minutes.

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