Good Times Roll in Linklater’s Newest Comedy

Photo Courtesy of LBJ Foundation, Wikipedia

Despite his age – he turns 56 this year – Texan director Richard Linklater has not forgotten the spirit of his younger days: his latest endeavor, “Everybody Wants Some!!,” is a wonderful depiction of college life characterized by a joyous lust for life.

Taking place in 1980, “Everybody” follows the baseball team of a Texas college in the first three days of the fall semester, as the rowdy, meat-headed jocks attempt to fill their waking hours with as much partying as possible before their classes begin.

Linklater himself is the biggest name attached to the movie; the man behind the cult classics “Slacker” and “Dazed and Confused” – two other films following young Americans on the cusp of adulthood – casts relatively unknown actors in the leading roles of “Everybody.”

While the movie is an ensemble piece – near-equal time is given to each character – one character, Jake (Blake Jenner), serves as the focal point of the film. A freshman newly recruited as a pitcher, Jake is an average baseball player and a smart guy who sees through the braggadocio of fraternity culture, but is content to sit back and tag along with his new teammates in their wild adventures.

As the weekend progresses, Jake befriends a variety of whacky characters, each of whom makes a mark upon the new guy on campus – but it’s Finnegan (Glen Powell), the fraudulent philosopher of the baseball team, who takes Jake under his wing and connects with him on an intellectual level. Talkative and charming, Finn uses his charisma to mask a psyche in turmoil; standing at the end of his college days, Finn struggles to gain balance, as he fears his best days are behind him.

Although its characters engage in all kinds of wild activities, the movie is ultimately a gentle comedy, with a current of bittersweetness running throughout: while the baseball team is supremely confident of their dominance on campus, it is clear many of them will be overwhelmed upon graduation, innocents cast into a large world. But the players know that time has yet to come, and are determined to party until the last day of senior year, thinking about nothing save baseball, booze and girls.

In “Everybody,” Linklater has created a sun-soaked fantasy land, one in which the beer is always cold, cheap and plentiful. It is a world audiences will be reluctant to leave, a vivid portrait of a youthful, idyllic existence.

The perfect film to mark the end of the school year, “Everybody Wants Some!!” gives audiences what they need: a fun ride filled with outrageous characters and heart.