The latest film from Richard Linklater is being touted as a “spiritual sequel” to his 1993 cult classic Dazed and Confused, but that description is incredibly limiting. It fits perfectly alongside his entire filmography, and touches on themes from damn near every single one of ‘em to create what is arguably the most Linklater-esque film yet.
Everybody Wants Some!! is not a sequel to Dazed in any traditional sense, nor is it some sort of contrived prequel or spin-off. It simply mirrors the day-in-the-life, friends-hanging-out aesthetic that its predecessor is known for, with an entirely new set of characters going about their days. On the surface, it’s just another laid back, college bro-out comedy, but as any Linklater faithful would expect, it’s brimming with just as much emotional resonance and philosophical meanderings and as his Before trilogy or Boyhood.
Everybody Wants Some!! opens in August 1980, three days before the first day of the fall semester at a Texas college, as freshman pitcher Jake arrives at his new home — the on-campus “baseball house” where he’ll be living with the rest of the team. We’re hastily introduced to the dozen-or-so inhabitants of the house, and for the rest of the film, we get to know them better as we follow their comings-and-goings during their final weekend of freedom before reality (aka school) sets in.
The film is decidedly aimless and doesn’t concern itself with much, if any, plotting; it’s mainly structured around a series of parties and wild nights out as these characters get to know themselves and each other. There’s a noticeable shift in the film where it tones down the silly hijinks and starts getting more metaphysical, and it works because we get to know the characters on a deeply personal level, and also, in a way, because we already know these people.
We all have that friend that takes one bong rip too many and goes off on a Carl Sagan-esque monologue. We’ve all been in the room with that insanely competitive guy when he loses his shit at the ping pong table, and we’ve certainly all met the dude that can’t grow a proper mustache if his life depended on it. That being said, not a single character is defined solely by their own archetypal trait — they are living, breathing, multi-faceted people who are just trying to figure out the meaning of life…after a few rounds of beer, anyway.
It’s easy to let Everybody Wants Some!! completely wash over you. It’s a breezy watch, but the beauty of all the party-hopping is that none of it is just for the sake of showcasing a good time and some T&A — there’s meaning and self-discovery to be found in all the seemingly innocuous musings in between gratuitous comedy.
For example, as the partygoers hop from a disco, to a country bar, to a punk show, then to a costume party full of theater kids, Jake wonders aloud to teammate/resident philosopher Finn (Glenn Powell, the film’s greatest asset) if he should feel bad about having no defined identity yet, as they’ve all just been dipping their toes all over campus and scoping the scene. Finn scoffs at the idea, stating that Jake and the rest of the boys are all just adaptive chameleons following one simple rule — “do whatever it takes to get laid.”
This seemingly crass moment is actually incredibly poignant, and really defines the film — the “seize the day” mentality — live in the now, and worry about the rest later. Finn, a classic Linklater hedonist, delivers a lot of the film’s most slyly affecting quips, and at one point mentions how he can’t believe so many of his teammates see themselves playing baseball professionally. For him, this is a “now” endeavor, and he’s going to embrace the hell out of it, and as far as the future goes, come what may. And that’s all any of us can do.
Linklater isn’t concerned with where these characters were before, and where they’re going; we don’t get a succinct wrap-up at the end detailing every character’s trajectory, as that would entirely defeat the purpose. Everybody Wants Some!! is about nothing more than these people living in these specific moments and embracing the power of the present.
Through the guise of a bunch of horny jocks trying to fuck anything that moves, Linklater is able to quietly ruminate on life’s biggest questions, all while staying within the film’s happy-go-lucky margins. More than any other living writer/director, he has a real knack for turning everyday conversations into dialogue that not only makes you laugh, but makes you question, well, everything.
Everybody Wants Some!! is much weightier than it appears, and for a film that tackles the idea of impermanence head-on, it’s miraculously still funny and enjoyable enough to recommend as a fun Saturday night at the movies to just about anyone.
Everybody Wants Some!! is in theaters now.