Twenty-plus years after creating the definitive “coming of age in the ’70s” experience with Dazed and Confused, director Richard Linklater is back in an attempt to give the same treatment to the early ’80s with Everybody Wants Some!! As with Dazed and Confused, Linklater’s latest project is filled with a largely anonymous cast, and the true star is the time period.
Picking up just before the start of the fall semester at fictional Southeast Texas University, Everybody Wants Some!! follows the lives of the school’s baseball team. We’re initially introduced to Jake (Blake Jenner), an incoming freshman pitcher and focal point of the film, as he arrives at the off-campus house that serves as a dormitory for the team.
Despite the backdrop of being a baseball team, most of the movie focuses on a mix of drinking, smoking weed, hooking up with women and drinking. Along the way we’re treated to plenty of speeches about the importance of this time in their lives and how to get women into bed, and several characters drift in and out of the spotlight.
There’s also a bit of a romantic element as Jake takes a liking to Beverly (Zoey Deutch), a theater major that singles him out during an early scene. There isn’t much of a story arc here, even for a comedy, and what you end up with is a movie that moves from one party to the next.
Probably the best thing that Everybody has going for it is that it doesn’t take itself, or anything else, too seriously, and that lightheartedness is endearing. It seems like the actors are genuinely having fun in their roles, and all the pseudo intellectualism is presented in such a way that these characters are giving “deep” speeches with a wink and a nod.
As big time sports fans, it’s often difficult to enjoy movies that deal with sports because the scenes of actors portraying legitimate professional (or amateur) athletes can be painful to watch. To the film’s credit, many of the main actors had a baseball background so those moments when they’re actually on the diamond come across as pretty authentic.
There are a number of likeable characters outside of Jake, including Charlie Willoughby (Wyatt Russell) as a laid back Californian with a penchant for smoking tons of weed and “Beuter Perkins” (Will Brittain) in the role of a gullible redneck that ends up absorbing a lot of ribbing. As noted, there aren’t any household names in here, but the performances are still good.
For as much of the movie’s identity is that the guys we’re following are aspiring baseball players at a high-level program, there is very little actual baseball. One scene has the team getting together and going through a voluntary practice… and that’s pretty much it. We get to see them as competitive athletes, but they’re almost never in their element.
While we already touched on how limited the plot is, it bears repeating. The film literally covers a couple of days before the start of school and more or less follows the team as they go from one themed party or bar to another — disco, country western, etc. Maybe it’d resonate more with somehow who was of that age at that time, but all we took away was a collection of fun moments.
THE BONUS FEATURES
There aren’t a ton of extras, but it’s a solid set to be sure. The focus is pretty much on how they made various aspects of the film authentic, including some funny baseball demos and an enjoyable look at how they went about learning all the necessary dance moves. There’s also some stuff about how much of the film’s look and feel are guided by Linklater’s memories of that time period.
Although we wouldn’t consider this peak Linklater, Everybody Wants Some!! ends up being a fun time whether or not you can directly relate to the time period.