When Jake first gets to his new home, a poorly maintained college residence he shares with a handful of baseball players, everything looks out of reach. He doesn’t know anybody and his teammates don’t seem to care much about him. He arrives there with just his car and a small box of records. Oh, and something else you should know: it’s the 80s.
That not-having-much-with-you portrait is precisely what the film is aiming for: the American college adventure for the new guy in town. No matter what you bring with you, what it matters is what you are capable of putting out there in this unknown new world.
But even with that overture, “Everybody Wants Some!!” feels welcoming. In Richard Linklater’s (“Boyhood”) new film, the extravagant (and colorful) costume design, the music, and the good-looking guys are part of a nostalgic scenery that is both funny and fun.
The premise of the film is also simple: three days from Friday classes will start and the baseball team needs to bond. Fast. Although Sunday is the first training session, someone else is waiting for them around campus—the girls.
Jake jumps in a car with four other teammates. He sits in the back with two other freshmen and two baseball team veterans up front, flirting with every girl they come across.
The dialogue sounds arranged, so the naturalism Linklater displayed in “Before Midnight” or “Boyhood” never takes the stage. That’s why the comedy is more like the “Bernie”’s one liners than the “Before” trilogy’s you knows. But it all feels natural. The college mythology, the stereotypes, the anecdotes. It all adds up. It’s all fun.
Linklater plays with the characters’ idiosyncrasies and the students’ naiveté and mixes it all into a very structured narrative that never gets out of place. A party. Girls. A fight. Girls. Boys talking about baseball. Girls. Boys smoking pot. Girls.
It’s a narrative that, even with all its pop-culture self-consciousness, is more universal and timeless than its Texan-American 80s surface suggests. It establishes a similar legacy to the one “Project X” is now remembered for.
Like that film, in “Everybody Wants Some!!” the kids adapt. There’s no grandeur, no big ambitions, because everything is limited to what the immature protagonists are capable of, and that isn’t much. They try to fit in, they try to be liked and they try to have fun. That’s all there is in college, right? Not too many worries. At least not for now.
Their happiness reverberates through the smiles of the cast. They all are great and work out their differences with the chemistry of a group of people that looks as if they have been working together since forever. Kudos to Glen Powell (who also plays the great Chad Radwell in FOX’s “Scream Queens”), as the big star of the Baseball team.
Linklater adds one more person to the whole ordeal. A girl. Not “the girls,” but a specific one. He uses her as a cliffhanger and the chapters that go along are attached to one expected epilogue, a narrative motor that works flawlessly. It’s the expectation, and the beauty of that constant young and colorful laughter, that keeps us engaged until the very end. And like Jake, all we have is a smile. His is of anticipation, for he is just getting started. Ours is of nostalgia, as for us everything was already over when the film began.