Imagine university life without cellphones and laptops. It may seem impossible.
However, there was a time when plans were made using notes left on dorm room doors and parties happened without any minute-to-minute documentation on Snapchat. That time was 1980.
Richard Linklater’s new film Everybody Wants Some!! perfectly captures the essence of this pre-social media era.
It seems almost mystical for current students, but it’s semi-autobiographical for the filmmaker. Linklater played baseball at Sam Houston University in Texas and lived with his teammates in a house that was not quite a fraternity house but about as close as you can get.
The protagonist of his new film, Jake (played by Blake Jenner) is a freshman pitcher who is moving into one of these houses and getting acquainted with his teammates.
Whether it’s 1980 or 2016, student life doesn’t really change.
Like Linklater’s other films, it’s less plot-driven and more about the characters. It takes place in the three days before classes start. Jake and his teammates are simultaneously larger-than-life characters and yet completely relatable. In the short period of time, they try on several different identities.
They go to a disco club, a punk show, a country dance and a musical theatre party. The goal of these endeavours is mainly to meet girls.
But this is what university is all about — figuring out who you are through experimentation.
A few of the actors who play the main characters actually attended university. This definitely helped improve the authenticity. Will Brittain, who played the country bumpkin freshman Billy Autrey, attended University of Texas at Austin.
Tyler Hoechlin, who played the overly confident and competitive senior Glen McReynolds, attended UC Irvine and Arizona State University.
“Once (his parents) left, it’s kind of that feeling of that feeling of, ‘oh wow this is really happening and I’m on my own,’” Hoechlin said.
“That initial sense of freedom, that’s definitely something that I think anyone that sees the movie and sees Jake pulling up and going through that and meeting the guys for the first time, can identify with.” -Will Brittain
Brittain agreed, “There definitely was that same vibe at the beginning of college that Billy Autrey has coming into the scene, that sort of innocence and aversion to the experience. I was getting baptized into this world of cultures and different types of people and music so I could definitely relate to that.”
“It was a time period where everyone was enjoying themselves and the people around them.”
The actors definitely noticed a few differences between the world (albeit fictional) in 1980 and now.
“It was nice to be sitting in the disco club and not have any of the directions to any of the actors in the background to be, ‘at this point you’re on your cellphone and not paying attention to anyone around you,’ which seems to happen all the time now,” Hoechlin said.
“I loved living in that world for a little bit. It was nice to have music going and people actually dancing and socializing. That was definitely my favourite part of it.”
Everybody Wants Some!! is a sentimental reminder of the spirit of university.
Jenner concurred that lack of social media was refreshing. “(The film is) a subtle reminder to just live in the now I think. With everything around us, all the traffic in the mind that we get approached with day-to-day with Twitter and Facebook and social media and just how connected everybody is, you forget that the moment right here and now is the most important and what’s right in front of you. That’s what I took from it.”
“In the 1980s everything wasn’t so politically correct and I mean that in the best way possible where people weren’t looking to take offence,” Brittain said.
“It was a time period where everyone was enjoying themselves and the people around them. From what Rick has told us and from what we’ve seen it was one of those time periods where people were more easygoing.” (one word)
Whether it’s 1980 or 2016, student life doesn’t really change. There will always be stoners, baseball players, musical theatre students, punks (yes, punk’s not dead) and people who haven’t quite figured out who they are yet. Everybody Wants Some!! is a sentimental reminder of the spirit of university.
This makes it relatable for all students, even if you were born well after 1980 and have never stepped foot onto a baseball diamond or into Texas.