Cast: Blake Jenner, Zoey Deutch, Ryan Guzman, Tyler Hoechlin, Will Brittain, Glenn Powell, Wyatt Russell
Director: Richard Linklater
Writer: Richard Linklater
This film has been described by Richard Linklater as a spiritual sequel to Dazed & Confused, a film that was very much an ode to a long-past age. The 1970s, the decade of Linklater’s youth, is one that he remembers fondly with nostalgia but not to the extent that he forgets about the awkwardness and frustration. In the film he recalls his days as a high schooler contemplating the passage into adulthood still ahead of him and wondering whether the future will live up to its promises or if this is all that there ever will be. Everybody Wants Some!!, set in the 1980s, marks the next stage of this journey. The characters are too old and too experienced to be boys but are perhaps not quite mature enough to be considered adults yet. They are embarking on a new stage of their lives, one that will be shaped by the pursuit of identity, belonging, escapism, competition and sex. As with his days of adolescence, Linklater has fond memories of his days of maturity and has succeeded in creating another movie that showcases them.
In the fall of 1980 college freshman Jake (Blake Jenner) moves into the house he will be sharing with college baseball team for which he will be the pitcher. There he meets several of his new teammates including Finn (Glenn Powell), Roper (Ryan Guzman), Dale (Quinton Johnson) and Plummer (Temple Baker). Together they embark on a quest to meet female students during which Jake catches the eye of Beverly (Zoey Deutch). Later a team meeting is held where Jake makes the acquaintance of such colourful characters as McReynolds (Tyler Hoechlin), the ultra competitive captain, Jay (Juston Street), the intensely eccentric jerk, and Willoughby (Wyatt Russell), the philosophical stoner. The coach informs them that there will be two rules on these premises: no alcohol in the house and no women upstairs. In the weekend that follows however, before the Monday where the baseball season and the college classes are set to begin, the guys resolve to enjoy themselves as much as possible.
From Slacker to the Before trilogy, Linklater is often at his best when he is unburdened by the mechanisms of plot. Many of his movies are more concerned with capturing moods and feelings than they are with telling stories and so, without a plot forcing him onwards, his movies are allowed to breathe and to move along organically. Everybody Wants Some!! is in keeping with this style. When it comes right down to it, this movie is about a bunch of college guys enjoying a weekend of baseball, parties and women. They make heroes and arses of themselves, they get lucky and strike out, they share deep truths and brazen lies with each other and they party like only the 80s knew how. The real question however is whether Linklater is actually saying something with this movie or if he’s simply sharing some of his favourite memories of college with us.
If Linklater’s only objective with this movie was to capture the 80s, then the film is a marked success. Everything from the stylish hairstyles to the colourful clothing to the superb music (Van Halen, Blondie, Dire Straits, the list goes on!) screams of the 80s. If Linklater wished to simply make an entertaining film about the antics of college jocks then he can tick that box as well. The casting in this movie is pitch-perfect as each member of the baseball team comes into his own with fully realised personalities. There is no doubt that Linklater must have known players exactly like them and the actors he found succeeded not only as individuals but as an ensemble. The way they interact and work off each other allows for many enjoyable moments. Some praise must also be granted to Deutch for playing the exuberant Beverly (the only female character with any dialogue of actual substance). Is the movie a true successor to Dazed & Confused though? Does it have that same level of honesty, depth and poignancy that made its predecessor a classic? The answer for me, regretfully, is not really.
I did enjoy Everybody Wants Some!! and I have no trouble believing that it is an authentic representation of Linklater’s memories of the 80s. However I didn’t find the movie to be as contemplative or as reflective as Linklater’s other movies have proven to be. While many have praised this movie as a nostalgic portrait of a bygone era that still resonates today, to me it was simply a movie about twelve guys trying to get laid. An entertaining movie to be sure, just not a particularly profound one. There are occasional glimpses of insightfulness where the characters take a moment to consider such themes as identity, responsibility and the future. One part that struck be as poignant was when one character was revealed to be a thirty-year-old posing as a college student. For the most part however I found Everybody Wants Some!! to be a simple but enjoyable college movie helmed by one of the best directors working today. It may not be Dazed & Confused, but it’s enough.