Everybody Wants Some!!, Richard Linklater’s latest offering, is worthy of being named the “spiritual sequel” to his 1993 classic Dazed and Confused.
With witty one-liners that will no doubt become part of our everyday vocabulary the same way Wooderson’s dialogue did with Dazed and Confused, Everybody Wants Some!! is a very rare mix of dudebro comedy and insightful, intelligent humor. It’s what I imagine would have happened if The Hangover had been written by Aaron Sorkin.
Set in the early 1980s on a college campus in the last days before classes begin, Everybody Wants Some!! primarily follows freshman pitcher Jake (Blake Jenner) as he meets his fellow baseball teammates. The team, who due to a shortage of on-campus housing have been gifted two houses by the town, is made up of a mix of colorful characters whose names you may not remember but whose personalities you will never forget.
There are a few characters who, despite not being in the film all that much, manage to steal virtually every scene that they’re in, and I’m not even being biased when I tell you all that one of them is Tyler Hoechlin’s McReynolds. McReynolds is a walking contradiction – a guy who is such a sore loser that he throws a ping-pong paddle at his opponent yet makes an impassioned, though profanity-laced, speech to one of the other players about the importance of being a team player. He manages to come off as a massive douchebag with hidden depths. You don’t get to see them, but you still get the sense that they exist. Somewhere. As a massive Hoechlin fan, I am so happy that he landed this role in this movie; it may not be one of the main parts, but it is definitely a standout.
The other scene-stealer is Juston Street as Jay Niles, an egotistical pitcher who must assert himself as a tough guy in every single interaction he has, even one as simple as ordering a screwdriver from the bar. He’s the player on the receiving end of McReynold’s lecture, after he tries to outshine everyone in their first practice of the year. He oozes ridiculous, and he can earn laughs pretty much just by showing up.
As for the rest of the cast, while Blake Jenner is adorable as confused-and-mostly-harmless Jake, Glen Powell’s smooth-talking Finn almost completely steals the show from him. Wyatt Russell is a delight as transfer student Willoughby, who goes off on a rant about corporate America™ forcing you to like bad music that may become as memorable as Slater’s speech about the founding fathers from Dazed and Confused. Will Brittain’s country hayseed Billy starts out as the butt of everyone’s jokes but becomes more accepted as the film goes on. J. Quinton Johnson’s Dale doles out sage advice to the freshman whom he takes under his wing. (He also wrote a song for the soundtrack, so make sure you stay to the very end of the credits or you will miss the spectacularness that is “Cherokee ChaChow”.)
Short of being grossly misogynistic, there was very little chance I wouldn’t enjoy Everybody Wants Some!!. Whereas Dazed and Confused had a healthy mix of male and female characters who had their own motivations and desires, this cast is predominantly white and male, and unfortunately the film doesn’t pass the Bechdel Test (most of the female characters don’t even have names), which may understandably turn some people off from seeing it at all. I trust Richard Linklater, though, and while there were some very “male gaze” moments (one of the characters manages to talk two girls into mud wrestling in their underwear), it didn’t strike me as too overtly sexist. Yes, there is a scene where the team all try to convince Billy that his girlfriend’s pregnancy scare is her testing him (she is only one day late, after all), but there are also moments like an entire sorority flipping off and cussing out a carful of the boys for yelling at them out the window, or Finn imparting wisdom like “girls are allowed to like sex” while at a club trying to pull.
The thing is, Everybody Wants Some!! isn’t really about boys trying to have sex. It’s something that happens, because they’re guys in college, but even the romantic subplot where Jake tries to woo Beverly (Zoey Deutch) doesn’t really kick into gear until almost halfway through the film. Everybody Wants Some!! is more about the boys’ interactions with each other than with the opposite sex. And while there are a ton of movies about guys growing up™ and discovering things™, I don’t feel that this was just another buddies-being-buddies film.
On its surface, the movie is about a bunch of boys in their late teens and early twenties enjoying themselves without adult supervision for the first time. There are alcohol-fuelled parties where they slide down the stairs on mattresses and build a mud wrestling pit in their backyard. There are ridiculous bets and competitions as each boy tries to one up another. There are also existential conversations about listening to the music between the notes as they all get high.
At its core, Everybody Wants Some!! is a film about trying to figure yourself out. Both this movie and Dazed and Confused are similar in the sense that it features a group of kids who are approaching a precipice but not quite there yet (Everybody Wants Some!! is at the beginning of the school year, Dazed and Confused is the summer before senior year), so there is no real sense of immediacy in any of their actions or decisions. They have the time to think about who they are and who they want to be.
There is a scene later in the film where Jake laments to Finn that he feels like he’s having an identity crisis because they went to three very different bars (disco, country-western, punk) in three days and it all seemed insincere and fake, and Finn basically tells him that he thinks too much, and that they’re all still trying to figure themselves out. All throughout the movie the boys insist that they all they need to do when they introduce themselves is say that they play baseball. They don’t need a major; they’re baseball players. So this scene between Jake and Finn is an especially poignant moment if you recall an earlier conversation wherein Finn admits to being one of the only guys on the team who doesn’t think he has any chance of playing baseball professionally.
I greatly enjoyed Everybody Wants Some!!. It’s the best kind of comedy: laugh out loud funny interspersed with dialogue that makes you think. It’s entertaining and totally relatable. I can definitely see it taking up a similar mantle as Dazed and Confused and becoming just as much a classic.
Everybody Wants Some!! opens today in New York and Los Angeles, in select cities this Friday, and nationwide April 15.
Author: Jamie Sugah
Jamie has a BA in English with a focus in creative writing from The Ohio State University. She self-published her first novel, The Perils of Long Hair on a Windy Day, which is available through Amazon. She is currently an archivist and lives in New York City with her demon ninja vampire cat. She covers television, books, movies, anime, and conventions in the NYC area.
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