'Everybody Wants Some!!'

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The exclamation marks are a double jab in the ribs. But if you can bear the assaultive title — borrowed from a Van Halen song (a friend tells me) — you can bear, even relish, the rest of Richard Linklater’s Everybody Wants Some!!. The maker of Boyhood obviously wanted to make Boyhood’s obverse. For an epic elegy about growing up, read a hell-raising haiku about not growing up. In fact it is a spiritual sequel to Dazed and Confused, Linklater’s earlier canonic youth comedy.

The charm is winning. It’s that of a social-anthropological Luddism — wry, heroic and cheeky. The 1980-set story tells us, with a broad grin of evangelising nostalgia, that male energies have barely advanced in sophistication since 1980BC (discuss, or not) and that sports males, especially, see college/university as a way to devise their own education. Beer, girls, parties; more beer, girls, parties. Fast-track badinage. Plus games and pranks of outwitting, to prepare for the greater game of outwitting known as adulthood.

The cast is terrific and the script has a framing vision of a moment in time. The half-dozen central jocks — baseball “scholars” tasting the turn of a decade — are led by Blake Jenner’s bemused hunk of a freshman, beautifully played, an Isherwood-in-Berlin in Texas, and Glen Powell’s mischievous, seen-it-all senior, his fledgling moustache like antennae to a new zeitgeist.

The hippy age is about to become the yuppie age. These guys are Horatios on the bridge of change, making sure human continuity, and youthful he-man continuity, holds fast as long as it can. For someone humming much the same tune from film to film, Linklater has an amazing versatility. The romantic wistfulness of the “Before” trilogy; the funky animation of Waking Life; School of Rock’s high-fiving populism; Boyhood; and in Dazed and this movie, an irresistibly peppy vision of the past as playground for the growing soul.

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