Everybody Wants Some September 2, 2016
When their virility is eventually traded for domesticity and middle age replaces their once enviable ladies men personae, the young men of Everybody Wants Some will look back at their formerly easygoing days and nights of boozing, partying, and skirt chasing and wonder where it all went. Everybody Wants Some (2016), Richard Linklater’s spiritual sequel to 1993’s excellent Dazed and Confused, is a snapshot of good times that used to roll.
No matter if you’re in your twenties, grew up in the 1970s and saw adulthood in the 1980s, or if you lackadaisically listened to FM radio drenched in Van Halen and Blondie while driving through the city streets on hot summer nights, the film is a summation of that same feeling that overwhelms us when reminiscing about our carefree pasts — ones that make us moan about how we didn’t appreciate our days of ruling the world when they were right in front of us.
If Linklater’s two-decade-plus long career has taught us anything, it’s shown us that he (whose Before … trilogy and 2014 game-changer Boyhood are among the greatest achievements of modern cinema) mimics a magnificently gifted flâneur more than he does a Hollywood filmmaker. With a filmography that mostly leans toward the art of the character piece, Linklater doesn’t so much write characters as he does individuals who swell in their three-dimensionality, their motivations never as connect-the-dot-simple as some movies would have you believing.
But because Everybody Wants Some takes place in 1980 and comprises a cast portraying hedonistic college students, going for the profound characterizations to have distinguished Linklater’s collaborations with Ethan Hawke are not so easy to take to: At first glance, these characters seem piggish, brawn without brain.
But the more we familiarize ourselves with these central, Texas-living collegiate baseball players as they get to know one another the weekend before classes start, we find that in front of us are not the boorish jocks we thought we hated in high school. In front of us are hotshots who don costumes of apparent invincibility as a way to hide their insecurities and their fears, making the most their physical assets and their temporarily notable statuses before they’re forever lost in the oblivion of the past.
But we only come to that conclusion toward Everybody Wants Some’s end, when stirring bouts of contemplation and the notion of new beginnings replaces the earlier, exasperating revelry. For most of its length, the film is more about lives being lived than people being psychologically picked apart, and, like Dazed and Confused, there’s momentous pleasure in watching faux-weary young adults converse about topics ranging from trivial to ardent (perhaps only because Linklater, like Kevin Smith or even David Mamet, is so skilled with dialogue that tête-à-têtes are revivifying rather than boring) as an era-authentic soundtrack whispers in the background.
Since the ensemble encompasses leading men who seem poised for future stardom, the film’s antics are underlined in a youthful glow rather than potentially off-putting haphazardness.
Protagonist Blake Jenner is an affable newbie who brings balance to the sometimes noisy array of characters that surround his Jake; Glen Powell, as the proficient upperclassman womanizer that takes Jake under his wing, is terrifically smooth. And Zoey Deutch, as Jake’s love interest (and only leading female in the film), is a winner whose sunny smile brings reminds me of leading ladies of the yesteryear like Neve Campbell and, since I like her and am feeling generous, Julia Roberts.
But before my songs of praise suggest that Everybody Wants Some is a movie for everyone, it’s important to remember I’m also tremendously keen on films that dance to its same beat. I love movies that imitate life with plausible panache, and are interested in the complexities of relationships (romantic or otherwise). I love dialogue in which I can get lost, characters I can get inside the heads of without having to pick up a trowel first. The film caters toward my tastes but might push away the casual viewer — enter with caution if Linklater’s aforementioned works didn’t much tickle your fancy. B+