Richard Linklater’s ‘Everybody Wants Some!!’ is a Wildly Entertaining, Smart and Subversive Party

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Richard Linklater is one of the great American filmmakers for a number of reasons, one of which being that he can’t be pegged to any one particular form of storytelling. But just because Linklater’s career is varied doesn’t mean that the auteur’s work doesn’t have themes that fascinate the filmmaker. Time and time again, Linklater has crafted films that are about lives in transition, and youth transitioning into adulthood. His most famous films (Boyhood and Dazed and Confused) have explored this very theme with exceptional clarity while still entertaining. His latest, the self-proclaimed “spiritual sequel” to Dazed and Confused, Everybody Wants Some!! sees no decline in quality as Linklater once again finds himself exploring this particular pet theme. Though calling the movie a spiritual sequel may set some unobtainable expectations, Everybody Wants Some!! stands on its own raucous comedy of debauched young men indulging in all forms of excess.

Set in August of 1980, Everybody Wants Some!! follows Jake (Blake Jenner) over the course of the three days between when he arrives for college and when classes actually start. On a baseball scholarship, Jake doesn’t have to reside in the dorms. Instead, he resides in one of two houses to be shared by the baseball team, an assortment of oddballs that will both torment and befriend Jake in a short period of time. Of the veterans, there’s McReynolds (Tyler Hoechlin), a slugger with potential to make the pros; Finnegan (Glen Powell), the chatty wiseass who may have been in college a little too long; Jay Niles (Juston Street), a wild man whose temper is only matched by his fastball; Dale Douglas (J. Quinton Johnson), the second baseman and lone person of color; Roper (Ryan Guzman), a pretty boy; and rounded out with Coma (Forrest Vickery) and Nesbit (Austin Amelio). Among those newcomers joining Jake on the team include Plummer (Temple Baker), a young catcher; Billy (Will Brittain), a Texas hillbilly unlovingly nicknamed Beuter; Brumley (Tanner Kalina), an outfielder with pitiful mustache; and Willoughby (Wyatt Russell), a stoner and senior transfer from another school. Over the next three days, these guys will seek alcoholic indulgence, sexual gratification, and will go through any means to get what they want.

There will be some that will have problems with the way that the film is so heavily male-oriented, but Linklater hasn’t simply made a film about the bros of the early ‘80s. Quite often Linklater shoots scenes in the male gaze of its young, horny characters. All of the main characters in Everybody Wants Some!! is really quite privileged, and they know it. They exploit their status for all they can get – no cover at the disco club, complimentary drinks, and the attention of the women on campus. It’s a dangerous line that Linklater is toeing in trying to simultaneously celebrating and subverting the masculine privilege of its characters.

For all their drunken and crude behavior, the characters of Everybody Wants Some!! represent both the joys and dangers of unfettered masculinity. Many of these characters see themselves as on the path to greatness, taking the next logical step towards taking the field in a Major League stadium. Those who are aware that this time of rowdy excess is fleeting and temporary are best suited to cope with the challenges of the future. Conversely, there are those that just don’t want to the good times to ever end, trying in vain to have time stand still. Each of these characters is wildly competitive, and the close quarters of the baseball houses leads to everything becoming some form of a competition, which can either motivate them towards their best or infuriate them towards childish rage.

Yet the characters of Everybody Wants Some!! aren’t assholes to anyone except their fellow teammates. Unlike Dazed, there are no scenes of fights or petty vandalism, though the freshman on the baseball team are subject to hazing. I don’t think I’d be friends with any of these meathead jocks, but between moments of comradery and their witty banter, two hours in their company is quite joyful. The connection that binds these characters is constantly apparent, including one ridiculously charming scene where they sing along to the Sugarhill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight.” Part of the charm of spending time with these goofball jocks comes from the various facades they adopt in hopes of female attention. They attend a disco, a cowboy bar, a punk club, and a party held by the theater students. There’s the duality of trying to blend into their surrounding and still being themselves, something that represents part of the pitfalls of this rah-rah macho behavior.

With a mostly unknown cast, Everybody Wants Some!! features wonderful performances all around. As the lead, Blake Jenner is this kind of wide-eyed all-American boy, encapsulating the aw-shucks attitude of a young man away from home for the first time. The burgeoning relationship between Jenner’s Jake and the young theater student Beverly (played by the wonderfully charismatic Zoey Deutch) is really quite sweet, and plays as nice counterprogramming to the hook-ups that dominate the film. Glen Powell garners many of the film’s laughs, with a snarky delivery to practically every line he speaks. The real hidden gem of Everybody Wants Some!! is the wild performance from Juston Street. As the flamethrowing pitcher with a short fuse, Street consistently garners the most laughs in his moments of frantic fits, screaming and flailing about in a rage. Like he did with Dazed, Linklater is presenting a whole new set of young actors that we’ll be seeing a lot more of in the near future.

From the very start of Everybody Wants Some!!, Linklater and his young cast planted a smile on my face that stayed throughout the film’s running time. Perhaps the film lasts a bit too long, running at a solid two hours, but it’s constantly entertaining and engaging thematically. There’s not a real story at the heart of the movie, but Everybody Wants Some!! doesn’t need to hit generic story beats to work. As the spiritual sequel to Dazed and Confused, Everybody Wants Some!! is a worthy relative – you could make the case that it takes place over Mitch Kramer’s first days at college. Even with all the nostalgia that permeates throughout its frames, Everybody Wants Some!! is a rowdy comedy that doesn’t rely on the past for its potency. Once again, Linklater explores the themes of youth approaching adulthood, and once again, he injects it with an unparalleled sense of life and energy.

  • Everybody Wants Some!!
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Summary

The spiritual sequel to Dazed and Confused, Everybody Wants Some!! sees writer-director Richard Linklater exploring his pet themes is this wonderful, raucous comedy.

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