Tweetable Takeaway: Once again, #Linklater proves that he can do a lot with very little story. Tweet
EVERYBODY WANTS SOME!! is dubbed as Richard Linklater’s “spiritual sequel” to the 1993 cult hit Dazed and Confused, which not only introduced us to the curious being that would become the Matthew McConaughey but also opened us up to Linklater’s distinct style of naturalistic filmmaking. Set in 1980, four years after its predecessor, Everybody Wants Some!! continues this tradition with a story that mirrors its predecessor — which essentially means that there isn’t really a structured narrative at all. Instead, the film relies heavily on the conversational dialogue and interactions between the characters to drive the story forward, which just happens to be Linklater’s specialty.
That’s not to say there isn’t some semblance of a plot. In the beginning, we are introduced to the eager yet tolerable Jake (Blake Jenner), a freshman on his way to his first year at college. His car is packed with some ’80s essentials: cassette tapes, records, and totally rad Hi-Fi system. As he drives into the Texas college town, he is met with a surge of excitement and a bevy of beautiful ladies walking around campus. He pulls up to his new home, a house reserved for the college’s baseball players and is met by his upperclassman teammates McReynolds (Tyler Hoechlin) and Roper (Ryan Guzman). They push him around a little bit and his soon meets his other teammates and they become instant buds. Thus begins Jake’s coming-of-age story…college-style.
Filled with mustaches of various densities and shorts that don’t go below the upper thigh (for both sexes), Everybody Wants Some!! captures a certain feel-good, sexually charged essence that echoes movies of the era like Porky’s and Meatballs… except not as, well, horny. Contrary what the title may suggest, “getting some” is not the end goal in the movie. Sure, sex is on the menu because it is college and it is the ’80s, but the film focuses on the spirit and excitement of the first year of college seen through the perspective of Jake.
Throughout the movie we see Jake open to new experiences and pretty much saying “yes” to everything he is introduced to without being a doormat. He dabbles in the world of bro-style jock partying, parties at a discotheque called the ‘Sound Machine’, does the Cotton Eye Joe at a cowboy club and even manages to go to a punk club.
All comes to a head when Jake finally musters up the courage to ask the artsy theater major Beverly (Zoey Deutch) on a date. This easily could have gone the typical “jock falls for art school introvert” direction, but this is Linklater. So the relationship remains endearing and anti-Hollywood.
There are traces of Boyhood, the Before Sunrise trilogy and, of course, Dazed and Confused embedded in the DNA of Everybody Wants Some!! We are basically watching Jake go through another form of adolescence (Boyhood). While doing so, he unexpectedly falls for a girl under unusual circumstances (Before Sunrise) and develops new friendships and bonds with guys that share the same interests as him (Dazed and Confused). All of it, of course, is complete with Linklater’s signature balance of studio filmmaking and indie sensibility.
To use an apropos 80s reference, Everybody Wants Some!! is the Voltron of Linklater movies.
Ultimately, nothing really happens in Everybody Wants Some!! We are just watching a bunch of guys and gals going to a bunch of parties days before the first day of college. If any other director made a film like this, it would be excruciatingly boring and lame. But Linklater has a magical touch when it comes to telling a story without telling one at all. In addition to Jenner and Deutch, Linklater uses a cast of talented unknowns like Temple Baker, Will Brittain, Juston Street, and J. Quinton Johnson; his lack of big marquee names is a bold move, especially these days. But hey, he did it with McConaughey and Dazed and that seemed to work out alright, alright, al– okay, you get it.
Everybody Wants Some!! shines. You’ll leave the theater high on nostalgia with a smile on your face. It’s like watching a hybrid of an ’80s reality show about Texas college co-eds and an uber-hip art film set to one of the best soundtracks to come around since Guardians of the Galaxy.
Now all we need to do is wait another 23 years for Linklater to round out this trilogy… and I’m sure it’ll be worth it.
Score: 4 out of 5
Dino-Ray Ramos watches too much TV and laughs inappropriately during dramatic films. He’s a fan of comedy, podcasts, and comedy podcasts. He’s a reformed comic book geek and thinks “The Goonies” is the best movie of all time. When he isn’t stuffing his face with a burrito, he’s thinking about his next trip to Disneyland.
Dino-Ray Ramos | Staff Writer