Published on April 27th, 2016 | by Nathan Raine0
Everybody Wants Some!!
Everybody Wants Some!! is director Richard Linklater’s spiritual sequel to his classic end of high school movie, Dazed and Confused. Does the movie hold up?
It’s late summer of 1980, and with the new semester drawing uncomfortably close, campus is germinating with young people desperate to escape sobriety and responsibility in their last few days of adolescent freedom. As students haul luggage and crates through the dormitory parking lot, a car stuffed with baseball players hunting for girls careens around the lot, ‘My Sharona’ by The Knack spilling from the speakers. Three days until the start of the semester — a scarce amount of time to throw a party, get drunk, find girls, find oneself. There’s a palpable sense of jockish competition in the car, the dudes exchanging verbal jabs as invitations to their house party get denied. On the surface, it might look like just another college party movie. But, writer/director Richard Linklater’s last hangout film, Dazed and Confused, is anything but just another high school party movie, and Linklater again takes an ensemble of characters on a journey in attaining some small fragment of self-discovery masked in a boozy, hazy surface.
Everybody Wants Some!!, described by Linklater as a “spiritual sequel” to Dazed and Confused, centres on Jake Bradford [Blake Jenner], an incoming freshman pitcher on Texas Southern University’s nationally ranked baseball team. There awaits him a gaggle of rowdy baseball-bros, all living in the same beat-down frat house. Jake, the handsome, friendly, eager-for-everything newcomer is one of Linklater’s many not-so-prototypes. Chief among them, and perhaps the film’s most magnetic character, is Finnegan [Glen Powell]; libertine, jokester, philosopher, and sort of master-of-ceremonies in Jake’s journey of beer-and-sex-fuelled self-discovery.
There’s also a friendly stoner, drawling Southerner, deranged weirdo, and thuggish senior among others — all distinctly individual and approached by Linklater with endearment — opposing any of the hackneyed “meat-headed jock” stereotypes. It’s one of the true virtues of Linklater; his period pieces are at once nostalgic and recognizable while remaining entirely devoid of cliché. Each member of the team fights to distinguish himself from the collective, yet fit in with this new baseball family. It’s the ongoing tension of youth, finding oneself while desperate to belong, and Linklater captures it effortlessly.
I’m beginning to suspect Linklater might be that most-interesting-guy at every party. Some unassuming dude at a party you’re not sure how you’ve found yourself in conversation with, but suddenly has you in a lively and personal exchange about about love, art, and time. Then, the heaviness of the conversation is entirely dissipated when he cracks a joke and takes off for his next encounter. It’s more or less how many of his great films have been structured [Before Trilogy, Boyhood, Dazed, Waking Life, Slacker], moments as profound, hilarious, and human as they are temporary and fleeting.
In Everybody Wants Some!! Linklater structures his series of contemplations around the three days prior to the beginning of the semester, each day a new party furnished with a new musical style. He drifts from character to character, every conversation tinged with some deeper meaning. An afternoon spent hitting a bong with the teammates becomes competitive, philosophical, and hilarious. It’s as if in this transitional state between adolescence and adulthood, life and all its possibilities are beginning to open itself to them.
It should come as a surprise to exactly no one that Linklater again resists any plot or dramatic conflict. Everybody Wants Some!! is too concerned with the energy of the conversations to be bothered with plot. A ticking clock marks the approaching semester, accounting for the least dramatic countdown in film history. Linklater is obsessed with how relationships, love, and ideas exist within the cruelties and anomalies of time. He’s built a career around studying of the rhythms and jolts of its passage, the way we can measure and duplicate its passage on film. Jake and his teammates continually lunge toward the intangible, the great reason for being, found somewhere between baseball, beer, and human connection. Willoughby [Wyatt Russell] serves as both a stoner spiritual guide and reminder of their own evanescence . His abrupt departure, reminding Jake that he’s, “here for good time, not a long time,” succinctly summarizes all that Linklater wishes to express. But it’s playful, and Linklater doesn’t linger over the moment. Like time itself, it has an ongoing, non-stop rhythm, often causing us to miss the profundity or hilarity of the moment by virtue of its fleeting nature.
Amidst the binge drinking, recreational drug use, and constant competitiveness, Jake meets Beverly [Zoey Deutch], who obstructs a bit of the hyper-masculinity and allows Jake to flex his intellectual muscle for change. The love interest is nice, but accounts for the sole predictable and somewhat trite moment in the film. Fortunately, it avoids taking a turn towards sappy teen melodrama. For Linklater, there’s no risk of cliché or pretension in these encounters, or in the casual philosophizing, even though some come across as hyper-real. The character’s existence might seem predicated on baseball, booze, and sex, but the film has a palpable sense of thoughtfulness and complexity as they playfully explore some of life’s tougher questions. They want all answers and they all want time. Maybe it’s why Linklater’s films are so relatable. It’s what we all want.