Quick, name the Richard Linklater coming-of-age movie with a killer classic rock soundtrack.
If you said Dazed and Confused, you’re right, but the question could now be multiple choice. Linklater has been quoted as saying Everybody Wants Some!! is a “spiritual sequel” to Dazed and Confused, but is also the natural continuation of the story he told in Boyhood–the young man has now headed off to college.
Blake Jenner plays Jake, a wide-eyed freshman who drives across the country to start school and join the baseball team at Southwest Texas University. He moves into an one of two apartments that house the rest of the baseball team, and the movie takes us through the three days before class starts.
Like Dazed and Confused, plot takes a backseat to the atmosphere and mood of the movie. I’d call it nostalgia, but it deserves a better term than that. The movie doesn’t just fondly recall the late 70s and early 80s, it recreates it. Linklater nails the sets and the cars and the clothes, but more than anything, it’s the vivid characters that make you feel like you’re living in the house with these guys.
Glenn Powell as Finnegan is one of the ringleaders of the group, and the sort of character that exists in any group of guy friends. He’s cool, has most of the answers (or thinks he does), and talks his friends into scenarios that are bad for them but entertaining for him. The teammates drink, go to parties, play bloody games of knuckles, and above all else, try to pick up girls.
There is a subplot between Jake and Beverly, played by Zoey Deutch, which accurately reflects the awkward playfulness of dating at that age, though the way they build upon their meet-cute probably wouldn’t be as well-received today. And even that helps paint the picture of a different time–what was puppy love then could be considered sexual harassment today.
There are times, especially early on, that feel slightly forced, as if Linklater is being too deliberate about trying to recapture the magic of Dazed and Confused. The singalong in the car comes too early in the movie. We don’t know these guys yet, so it just looks like the movie is trying too hard. Move that scene an hour deeper into the movie, and it would seem a lot more natural.
There are not many movies these days that so honestly and unapologetically portray relationships between male friends. This is both a strength and weakness of the movie. On the one hand, by focusing on the guys on the baseball team, Everybody Wants Some!! basically follows just one of the cliques at the school, and part of what made Dazed and Confused work so well was the way it moved so easily among many different groups and individuals. That’s why it’s a more interesting movie than this one. And, though they both have meandering plots, Everybody Wants Some!! starts to feel a bit long toward the end, and part of the reason may be that lack of variety.
There are times when the movie is unsettling to our modern sensibility. These guys drink and party and hunt women for sexual conquests. They’re sexist and crude and say and do things that would just be unacceptable today. But it’s a painfully accurate portrayal. As a man, you realize when you cringe at these shenanigans, you’re really cringing at a younger version of yourself.
|Title||Everybody Wants Some!!|
|Starring||Blake Jenner, Tyler Hoechlin, Ryan Guzman|
|Studio||Annapurna Pictures, Detour Filmproduction, Paramount Pictures|