Entertainment

Coming-of-age film transports you back to the ’80s

Glen Powell and Blake Jenner chill in a scene from “Everybody Wants Some!”
Glen Powell and Blake Jenner chill in a scene from “Everybody Wants Some!” Paramount Pictures

What It’s About

A fun flashback to 1980, “Everybody Wants Some!!” takes place the last weekend in August, before classes start at a Texas university.

Writer-director Richard Linklater has described his latest blast from the past as a “spiritual successor” to “Dazed and Confused,” the 1993 cult classic coming-of-age film about the last day of high school before summer vacation.

A raucous rite of passage is explored through a college baseball team. Going away to school is another indelible transition that Linklater has precisely grasped as a follow-up to his masterpiece “Boyhood.”

We follow teammates who arrive to start practice and enjoy the freedom that comes from living on your own. The rookies navigate unfamiliar territory while returning students reunite after a summer apart. We know exactly how they feel.

This movie strikes such a universal chord that I felt as if I was watching my brothers’ and their athletic friends’ lives — competing with each other, quick with quips, needling and ribbings, but playing hard at sports.

On the surface, the free-wheeling comedy would seem to be a party-hearty scenario, brimming with debauchery and jock camaraderie.

But it digs deeper. Just as “Boyhood” celebrated the small, mundane moments along with breakthrough revelations about life, so does “Everybody Wants Some!!” — only in a different, more subtle way.

The leap from high school to college can be a remarkable growth period, and those years are usually looked back at fondly, with a great deal of nostalgia. Linklater crystalizes this particular period as only he can, and the overall result is special.

The abundance of revelry and significant friendship-bonding is also a treasure trove of details — including Pioneer car stereos, vinyl LPs, short shorts, tube socks, shiny polyester shirts, robust mustaches, VHS tapes, mud wrestling and mechanical bulls.

The time-frame notes the music trends of the era — disco, Urban Cowboy and the burgeoning punk-New Wave scene. Linklater’s soundtrack choices are always spot-on, and they immediately take you back (the movie’s title is from a Van Halen song).

Performances

While keeping track of a houseful of shaggy-haired guys can be a little tricky, the characters have distinct personalities that make them memorable. Blake Jenner (“Glee”) is the central figure, charming as Jake, a freshman pitcher who is intrigued by a dance major he randomly meets (Beverly, played winningly by Zooey Deutch, daughter of Lea Thompson).

The roomies are perfectly cast. Tyler Hoechlin (“Teen Wolf”) is alpha-male McReynolds, a swaggering, ultra-competitive infielder who often acts like a jerk and resembles Keith Hernandez, then the St. Louis Cardinals’ reigning NL MVP.

Ryan Guzman (“Pretty Little Liars” easily slips into the rascal Roper role, the studly guy leading the cruising for chicks. These three tall, fit guys nail their roles, as does loosey-goosey Glen Powell (“Scream Queens’) as the super-cool senior who is a master at picking up the opposite sex.

Willoughby, played by Wyatt Russell (“22 Jump Street”), Kurt’s son with Goldie Hawn, is a pot-smoking California golden boy-pitcher with a past.

What Works

Linklater’s knack for dialogue is evident, laced with wit, and is authentic in the various scenarios presented. An honest, unvarnished slice-of-life that various ages can relate to — even if they didn’t grow up with landlines sans voice mail or drive big-boat sedans.

What Doesn’t Work

The girls, however, with the exception of Beverly, are merely window dressing, objects of desire.

Multiple characters are woven throughout the sprawling weekend, and just keeping track of their names is a chore.

But they make up this disarming snapshot of a unforgettable moment in time that we remember the rest of our lives. The names change in our own chapter, but we know these characters well, and in “Everybody Wants Some!!,” we see ourselves and the people we know.

‘Everybody Wants Some!!’

 1/2

  • Director: Richard Linklater
  • Cast: Blake Jenner, Wyatt Russell, Taylor Hoechlin, Ryan Guzman, and Zooey Deutch
  • Rated R (language throughout, sexual content, drug use and some nudity)
  • 117 minutes
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