Film review: Everybody Wants Some!! appeals to base instincts

The ’80s youth culture feature Everybody Wants Some!! is earning comparisons to director Richard Linklater’s cult classic, Dazed and Confused. Photo: Paramount Pictures The ’80s youth culture feature Everybody Wants Some!! is earning comparisons to director Richard Linklater’s cult classic, Dazed and Confused. Photo: Paramount Pictures

If there’s one thing Richard Linklater knows, it’s spiritual sequels. His last film, the award-winning Boyhood, evoked much of the same feelings as his before series (Before Sunrise, Before Sunset, Before Midnight) in its exploration of the inherent drama of something as simple as the passage of time. His rotoscoped mind trip Waking Life was considered by many to be an extension of his breakthrough film, Slacker, while he revisited the unmistakably trippy style of animation in A Scanner Darkly. Linklater as an individual is evidently fascinated by nostalgia, yet is not worshipful of it in the same way as, for example, Cameron Crowe. Linklater as a director is refreshingly unafraid of revisiting familiar territory, bringing new styles and more mature observations to themes from his previous films.

With the release of Everybody Wants Some!!, Linklater’s unofficial follow-up to the eternally relevant Dazed and Confused, the observation stands, even if the definition of mature is stretched to its breaking point. Where Dazed and Confused followed the lives of several distinct cliques in 1976 at a high school in Austin, Texas, and explored their various intersections, Everybody Wants Some!! sticks with the same group for the whole film as they explore all of the subcultures of 1980s youth. The former film is named after a slow, creepy Led Zeppelin song full of unpredictable, wild twists and turns. The latter is named after a raucous Van Halen party anthem that goes for the jugular immediately, an explosion of sound and energy that leaves nothing to the imagination with an enthusiasm befitting its double exclamation points.

It’s in this comparison that the otherwise entertaining Everybody Wants Some!! loses some of its lustre. Where Dazed and Confused could rely on inter-group clashes or solidarity to drive the drama, Everybody Wants Some!! packs as many caricatures as it can into the gang (a college baseball team, also in Austin). If there is anyone in Dazed and Confused who doesn’t engage you, the way he interacts with another student is still worth watching. Because Everybody Wants Some!! is totally centered on characters in one clique, it demands you find their exploits charming in order to be invested in the film.

We first meet incoming freshman pitcher Jake (Blake Jenner) on a drive to his new home in the baseball house. Of course, he’s preoccupied with the women of Austin, leering while he rocks out to “My Sharona.” Once he arrives, we meet the entire team in rapid succession, getting introduced to the culture that’s developed in this Petri dish full of competitive juices and testosterone. These guys want to get laid and play baseball, and the story is about the various ways they try to get laid when not playing baseball. Though Jake is the viewer’s surrogate—not too jockish, not too bookish, equal parts observer and participant in the shenanigans—the breakout star of the movie is Glen Powell as Finnegan, a fascinating motormouth with unflappable charisma who steals practically every scene he’s in.

Everybody Wants Some!! is often hilarious, frequently enjoyable and only occasionally irritating. Unfortunately, irritation is the chief emotion for the first 30 to 45 minutes, until the guys begin exploring beyond their disco and country mainstays, venturing into punk and drama. Once this begins and the real schisms start to reveal themselves, the film earns positive comparisons to Dazed and Confused. In the end, you may not fully like Everybody Wants Some!!, but if you stick it out, you won’t regret watching it.

Everybody Wants Some!!

R, 117 minutes

Violet Crown Cinema

Playing this week

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