[Screen It]


(2016) (Blake Jenner, Tyler Hoechlin) (R)

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Dramedy: A number of baseball players prepare for a new year at their college by partying and trying to bed various young women.
It's 1980 and Jake (BLAKE JENNER) is an incoming freshman at a college where he's to be a pitcher on the school's baseball team. He, other freshmen -- Plummer (TEMPLE BAKER), Brumley (TANNER KALINA) and Billy Autrey (WILL BRITTAIN) -- and transfer students Jay (JUSTON STREET) and Willoughby (WYATT RUSSELL) end up living in two houses provided by the school.

They join upperclassmen McReynolds (TYLER HOECHLIN), Roper (RYAN GUZMAN), Nesbit (AUSTIN AMELIO), Dale (J. QUINTON JOHNSON), Finnegan (GLEN POWELL) and Coma (FORREST VICKERY) in immediately partying and trying to pick up and bed various college girls, with Jake setting his sights on theater student Beverly (ZOEY DEUTCH), although it's a while before he makes his move.

Until then, it's lots of drinking at various clubs, talking about sex, being competitive with one another in macho ways and a little bit of baseball practice, all before the first day of classes begin.

OUR TAKE: 6 out of 10
The true litmus test for any period film -- at least those of a recent vintage accessible to certain viewers' memories -- is whether it rings true. That's not only in terms of what the characters are wearing, driving and the items they're using, but also how they think and behave. In short, it needs to seem like the real thing, albeit perhaps as viewed through rose-colored glasses, for those who remember the times depicted.

While I can't relate to the part about being on a baseball team after high school, I did attend college in the early 1980s. And thus, assessing the validity of the look and feel of "Everybody Wants Some!!" should be right up my alley (and no, there isn't any explanation for the double exclamation points in the title). Labeled as the spiritual successor to "Dazed and Confused" that took place in the 1970s, the film comes from writer-director Richard Linklater ("Boyhood") who helmed "D & C" back in 1993.

That pic ushered in all sorts of green to relatively new on-screen talent including the likes of Matthew McConaughey, Ben Affleck, Renée Zellweger and Parker Posey among others. Only time will tell if Hollywood futures lying in wait in similar numbers for this cast. Based on what the filmmaker gets out of most of them, however, I'm going to guess good things await at least some of the performers.

The film is set in 1980 at a college where our protagonist -- high school graduate and star pitcher Jake (Blake Jenner) -- arrives as an incoming freshman who will live in one of two college houses earmarked specifically for him and his teammates. That sort of thing didn't occur at my alma mater-- William and Mary -- but it provides the film with a sort of frat house setting and scenario.

And that's perfect for the film in that it's all about young males full of testosterone, newfound freedom, randy eyes for the ladies, and a nonstop appetite for competing in any number of things. The entire story takes place over only a few days leading up to the first day of classes, and follows the young men as they party, talk about sex as laden with crude bravado, occasionally engage in such behavior, and participate in just one, leisurely paced baseball practice sequence (featuring a unique if funny bit of hazing).

In fact, the entire film could be labeled that way -- leisurely funny -- as Linklater isn't in any hurry with the overall storyline that's admittedly fairly meager in plot construction. That said, the filmmaker gets decent mileage out of the scenario and his characters, thanks in part to both the performances and a terrific chemistry between all involved.

Jenner is both appealing and charming as the lead, whether that's interacting with the others - - including those played by Tyler Hoechlin, Glen Powell, Quinton Johnson and Wyatt Russell (son of Kurt and Goldie) - - or trying to win over a theater student (Zoey Deutch). The dialogue at times is terrific, especially from a humor standpoint, but isn't as profound as one might expect from Linklater. And while it might at times come across as a mixture of the wild college antics of "Animal House" and the young baseball pitcher aspects of "Bull Durham," I doubt it will go down as a classic of the genre like those films.

Then again it took "Dazed and Confused" a while to catch on as a cultural icon, so who knows, maybe this one will as well with time. Until then, it's a pleasant enough and charming if decidedly adult diversion that's likely going to be the springboard for launching one or more new Hollywood star careers. "Everybody Wants Some!!" rates as a 6 out of 10.

Reviewed March 28, 2016 / Posted April 1, 2016

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