Everybody Wants Some!! (2016)

(On Cable TV, June 2017) I’m not sure when Richard Linklater landed on my list of interesting directors. Probably by the time I got tired of writing, “you know, I didn’t really expect to enjoy this but…” about nearly every one of his recent films. Here, Linklater goes back to college in describing the first few days of his protagonist’s arrival on campus. Unlike other college movies (and much in-line with Linklater’s playful habit of playing with time in his films), Everybody Wants Some!! takes place nearly entirely before the beginning of classes, in-between our protagonist’s arrival at the house where his baseball team stays, and the first course he attends. The three days in-between are a charmingly plotless mixture of girl-chasing, parties, baseball practice and spirited conversations. There is a plot of sorts, but much of the movie feels like the pilot episode of a much longer series, delicately setting up plot threads but ending on an upbeat anything-is-possible note. Against every single one of my expectations (and keep in mind that my college experience was barely PG rated), Everybody Wants Some!! is immediately and steadily engrossing. The characters are likable, the situations have just enough nostalgia to be compelling and the dialogues are razor-sharp. Blake Jenner is blandly likable as the viewpoint protagonist, while Zoey Deutch is too cute for words as the eventual romantic interest and Glen Powell steals the show as the wizened sarcastic Finnegan. A terrific soundtrack wraps up everything nicely. Atypical and successful as most of Linklater’s movies now seem to be, Everybody Wants Some!! feels like an unexpected hit, even for those who have nothing in common for the early-eighties nostalgia it invokes.

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