BAFTA and Golden Globe-winning director Richard Linklater has created American Pie for the hipster generation with zeitgeisty retro teen sports comedy Everybody Wants Some!!
These kids aren’t putting their chaps in pies or stumbling over anguished attempts to pick up girls. They’re a cocky bunch of wannabe pro baseball players who quote philosophy, read Kerouac and exude an offbeat machismo despite the hampering fashion of the 1980s (told you it was retro).
Not even obnoxiously loud shirts, mid-thigh shorts and dodgy moustaches can throw them off their swag.
It’s three days before college begins and the summer sun is still shining. Jake (Blake Jenner), a hot shot high school pitcher has won a scholarship to play college baseball. He meets his fellow teammates for the first time at a house set aside for the team and is immediately taken into a world of cruising to pick up chicks, drinking in the Sound Machine nightclub, taking hits from the bong and finding his place among the macho competitors fast becoming his closest friends.
Watching this movie is pure joy. It’s like being allowed to hang out with the cool guys at school and watch everything they get up to.
There’s not much emotional drama in Everybody Wants Some!! In fact is fair to say there’s practically none. Jake meets a girl (Zoey Deutsch), there’s some bromance and a few terse words but that’s about it. But given Linklater’s last film was Boyhood – that masterpiece in observational cinema shot over 12 years where we followed central character Mason through adolescence and into college (and saw actor Ellar Coltrane grow up in real life in the process) – we can forgive his decision to forego the tears and just keep the smiles.
As men we’re actually lucky to have a filmmaker like Linklater making movies that offer insight into our lives. Even this latest feature, a comedy full of goofballing and whimsy, has that touch of wistful wisdom that is the hallmark of Linklater’s work.
His character’s aren’t shallow either (Linklater wrote and directed on this one). While we never get to see their stories fleshed out, or watch them struggle through hard times, there’s so much given to us through the physicality of the performances.
Jake for one might be a good-looking hot shot, but he’s also still a gawky teenager. His posture has the awkwardness and innocence of youth. He slumps forwards, shoulders rolled and arms hanging down. He even goes in for a handshake like a boy; arm out at a right-angle. Like someone who doesn’t do it everyday for work and for whom it still holds some novelty.
There are so many great characters that I can already see the Everybody Wants Some!!-themed parties taking place at university halls up and down the country with everyone sporting outrageously garish 80s gear and quoting lines from the movie.
Finnegan (Glen Powell) easily stands out as a man’s man of the sort you wish you’d been able to party with back in your salad days. McReynolds (Tyler Hoechlin) is seriously macho “pro prospect” whose athletic frame impresses when he’s on the field but intimidates when he’s angry about losing. He also sports the finest moustache of the lot. Jay (Juston Street) is a weirdly intense loner who needs to learn to be part of a team.
Others putting in great performances are J. Quinton Johnson as Dale, who looks in all seriousness like a young, black Vince Vaughan, Wyatt Russell (son of Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn) who plays stoner hippy-with-a-secret Willoughby and Tanner Kalina as awkward man-child Brumley (“full throttle to the bottle!”).
In one fantastic piece of cinema the gang rap along to Rapper’s Delight by The Sugarhill Gang while cruising the streets in a car. In fact there’s a fantastic 80s soundtrack filling your ears for the whole near two-hours of it.
Final word: An instant pop culture classic and one of the most original movies to come about in some time. Linklater brings the laughs but underlines it all with a witty and knowing look at teenage boys as they start to come of age. Sure to raise a smile.
If you liked Everybody Wants Some!! you should also watch
- American Pie