A bracing jolt of “My Sharona” cranked up to max volume kicks off “Everybody Wants Some!!”and just like that — Bam! — it’s 1980 all over again. Specifically, it’s Texas in August 1980, where there’s a velvety late-summer warmth in the air and music is everywhere. Everywhere!
It’s coming out of the car speakers of a snazzy blue Olds 442 hardtop driven by the movie’s main character Jake Bradford (Blake Jenner), a lanky college freshman arriving on campus for the first time.
It’s coming too out of dorm rooms and bars and dance halls and funky eight-to-a-residence student houses.
It’s woven into the very air itself, backgound, foreground, heard faintly, heard LOUDLY.
Is that Debbie Harry warbling “Heart of Glass”? Yes. Are those the spudboys of Devo agitating the atmosphere with “Whip It”? Believe it.
And of course, in there too is Van Halen wailing “Everybody Wants Some!!”
Music is omnipresent, but “Everybody” is not a musical. The tunes are signifiers of a state of mind, a state of being, with that state being in one’s early 20s, out in the world, out from under the parental thumb, breaking free and trying to figure out just who the heck one is.
College kids of any era will recognize the stained wallpaper and ratty furniture of off-campus housing and the late nights of philosophizing in chemically altered states.
Set during the weekend before the start of a new college semester, the picture is an evocation of writer-director Richard Linklater’s past, being a follow-on to his 1993 cult hit “Dazed and Confused,” which evoked with similar precision the thoughts and feelings of kids on the brink of high school and aof those just graduating from it. “Dazed” is quite harsh in spots, depicting the anger and confusion of young people discombobulated by a significant transition in their lives. Termed by Linklater as the “spiritual sequel” to “Dazed,” “Everybody” is sunnier and funnier by far than its predecessor.
Its characters, mostly young men, members of the college’s baseball team, are feeling their oats, drinking (emptied Lone Star longnecks litter scene after scene), smoking (clouds of smoke from bongs and joints permeate the air), chasing women and dancing the nights away. Jake and company dance in loud polyester shirts and tight jeans to “Cotton-Eyed Joe,” undulate under a disco ball to Parliament’s “Give Up the Funk” in a student club and pogo to a punk-band version of — I swear — the theme from “Gilligan’s Island.”
Testosterone is flowing as freely as the beer, and Jake’s teammates/roommates joke with him to get a handle what kind of guy he is. Confident and easygoing is verdict what emerges.
Linklater’s decision to cast talented unknowns gives the picture a kind of seamless quality. The only thing we know about these people is what’s up there on screen — no off-screen associations here — and by and large they’re a pretty agreeable bunch. And their antics provoke laughs in bunches.
Though it’s a super-accurate rendering of the time period it portrays, the picture is universal in its appeal. College kids of any era will recognize the stained wallpaper and ratty furniture of “Everybody’s” off-campus housing and the late nights of philosophizing in chemically altered states. We’ve been there. We’ve done that. Linklater gets it right in every significant regard.
Everybody Wantes Some!!
☆☆☆☆☆ out of 5
Cast: Blake Jenner, Wyatt Russell, Ryan Guzman, Tyler Hoechlin, Glen Powell, Juston Street, James Quinton Johnson, Zoey Deutch.
Director: Richard Linklater.
Running time: 1:56.
Rated: R, for language throughout, sexual content, drug use and some nudity.