Time after time – ★★★★★
In Boyhood we all saw what director Richard Linklater could do by dipping into a boy’s life once a year for 12 years. It didn’t win him the much predicted Academy Award but it did garner the rather nice accolade of “most critically acclaimed film of the 21st century“. Amidst the positive reviews, there was a fair bit of online discourse around whether this narrative method was genius or a con, but Linklater had form for playing with time in his films. Most famously, in his Before series as we spend a night, an afternoon or an evening with Jessie and Celine.
What Linklater is best at though is grabbing a snapshot in time and taking its temperature, as the audience gets insight into what really matters for the characters at this exact juncture in their life. It’s something he achieved with SubUrbia, Dazed and Confused and the criminally under-rated Me and Orson Welles . He repeats the trick in Everybody Wants Some!! as the audience spends a weekend with the college baseball team at a Texas university in 1980.
We’re given an on-screen countdown of days and hours until their first class kicks off with a weekend of partying, dancing and baseball practice there to help them pass the time. At the centre of all this is Jake (played by Blake Jenner, a “Glee” graduate), who at first glance seems like your typical jock, but slowly reveals a whole lot more going on in that big noggin of his.
One of the nicest things you can say about the film is that every character on show here means well. Too often in American high school or college films we’re presented with a few likeable souls, surrounded by a range of douchebags, nerds and mean girls. Here, Linklater’s script presents a more realistic slate of groups and individuals who can all be pigeon-holed, but deep down are decent people who are there with that openness that embodies pretty much everyone in the opening weeks of college.
As you meander through a college freshman’s first few days, one of the most refreshing things is the rambling, unplanned nature of it all. There’s a scheduled practice and a first class to attend but other than that we’re on a nice trip that takes us to a range of house parties, a disco dancehall, a country music bar and a punk rock gig. While there’s very little in the way of a plot on show (a complaint for many people no doubt!), there’s lots more depth here than the the film’s trailer would have you believe, with most of the misleading marketing setting up something that’s more like a Superbad sequel. It does have as many laughs as an early Apatow creation (of the gross-out and stoner variety that we’d expect of an American college story) but getting some amateur philosophy and insight into the male psyche at that formative time in life means there’s plenty to have you smiling and pondering your own wasted third level education.
A college classic and one for the end of year list, cheers Dickie.
Released in Ireland on May 13th 2016