Everybody Wants Some!!, Richard Linklater’s bizarre follow-up to his multiple Oscar-nominated masterpiece Boyhood, seems almost deliberately obtuse, anachronistic and technically deficient. It is also, by the end, rather charming, which is its saving grace. For awhile – at least the first half hour – it feels like a total disaster.
It’s being promoted as “the spiritual sequel to Dazed and Confused”, Linklater’s much loved 1993 film which introduced us to an astonishing range of young actors, including Matthew McConaughey, Ben Affleck, Parker Posey, Adam Goldberg and Jason London. I can’t help feeling that, while being associated with a Linklater project will get their feet in doors, the cast of the new film won’t be as immediately embraced, because their performances, collectively, are very weird. They’re all on the same page, but it’s a strange, over-the-top, cartoonish page that makes them less loveable than the stoned high school denizens of the earlier film.
Essentially, they’re playing archetypes bordering on stereotypes. Collectively, they’re a group of college kids – in the days leading up to the a start of the academic year – who live together because they’re on the school’s fabled baseball team. Individually, they’re the clown, the stoner, the southern dummy, the dandy, the know-it-all and so on, and all seem to have been directed by Linklater to play up the characteristics of their type as much as possible, to the detriment of actual characterisation.
The film is set in 1980, the lads all want to “get some” – sex – and the film’s politics are no more advanced than those of Porky’s (1981) – which is, incidentally, a better movie, and has the benefit of looking more comfortable in its own period clothes.
I assume Linklater has made something autobiographical here, and maybe, in his memory, these guys have become huge, almost grotesque personalities which he’s cast and directed his actors to match. It makes for a very disconnected viewing experience. Thankfully, his lead actor, Blake Jenner, is allowed to let a touch of naturalism seep in, and when, in the film’s third act, he’s allowed to develop a romance with a freshman played by Zoe Deutch (who feels here like a new Anna Kendrick), we’re finally allowed in. For many it may be way too little, way too late.