‘Everybody Wants Some!!’
Director: Richard Linklater
Stars: Blake Jenner, Glen Powell
5 (out of 5) Globes
Richard Linklater’s “Everybody Wants Some!!” is billed as the “spiritual sequel” to “Dazed and Confused,” but it’s really the spiritual sequel to nearly all Linklaters. If there’s one thing all his movies share — on top of goofy humanism, an undying curiosity in others and visuals that are deceptively plain — it’s the combination of joy and terror that comes from living in the moment. Sometimes those moments are happy (“Before Sunrise”), sometimes they’re painful (“Before Midnight”), but they will always pass, eaten up in the cruel march of existence. Time — as the very un-Linklater-y Gaspar Noe once wrote in large, crimson letters in his film “Irreversible” — destroys everything.
So it goes with “Everybody Wants Some!!,” which on its face is a bro hangout movie about really cool bros. It’s 1980 and our heroes are mostly white but all of them male and very dude. They’re a baker’s dozen of fun-loving guys on a Texas college baseball team with three days to kill before fall classes begin. They and the movie have nothing much on their schedule — just bars, nightclubs, more bars, maybe a frou-frou performance art school party and plenty but plenty of ball-busting. Our sort-of lead — a pretty boy nice guy named Jake (Blake Jenner) — is smitten with a flirty-surly girl, Beverly (Zoey Deutch), but he’s in no rush to make her his. After all, there’s drinking to do first.
Jake, introduced cruising to his new digs to no less than “My Sharona,” is our initial entree into this world, but he can easily get lost among his 11 other new brehs. That’s a lot of boys to sort through, and Linklater allows us to feel lost, to see them as a single blob of young testosterone. Eventually we’ll learn to remember the guy (Tanner Kalina) with the failed mustache or the intense freak (Juston Street) who’s also the best on the team and the sage (Wyatt Russell) who really recommends the ninth chapter of “Cosmos” and likes to rattle off dorm room burner sessions about the birth of language to Pink Floyd’s super chill “Fearless.”
We might even come in with our own preconceptions about athletes. At one point Jake jokes to Beverly that she probably assumes they’re all knuckle-scraping he-men. Jocks are people, too, Linklater and his actors remind us, gently but forcibly. We don’t get to know anyone well, but each one has the power to surprise us with real charm, even depth. Jake might start off seeming like a bland tabula rasa — the equivalent of gawky Wiley Wiggins in “Dazed and Confused.” But then he’ll bust out a moment of sly confidence peaking out of his placid exterior. The most self-assured of the lot — Glen Powell’s McConaughey-esque Finnegan — is not only worldly but boasts that he doesn’t see himself even becoming a professional baseballer. He’s just enjoying his youth, letting, as one of them puts it, the experiences find him.
“Dazed and Confused” waited till the final stretch to put a grim, cosmic spin on the fun: that the beer-soaked high school partying we’d just seen, in the estimation of Jason London’s Randall “Pink” Floyd, better not be the best years of their lives. Some of us may come to “Everybody Wants Some!” with the baggage of past Linklaters, especially the “Before” films, where youth and love and passion fades over the series and the decades. We may know that the plotless zeal captured in this film is ultimately bittersweet — that their Adonis bodies will one day fail them, that life will throw them curveballs (if you will), that every joy is but transitory. We may suspect that what happens between Jake and Beverly may just be a first-week-of-college thing.
Perhaps even the characters’ unexamined privilege starts to seem tragic. Surely they’ll one day get busted out of their bubble, realize how good they once had it. Or maybe they’ll disappear further inside their microcosm and think about voting for Trump. Even if we were never college athletes who shared a dilapidated house with a bunch of wicked dudes, we can relate to “Everybody Wants Some!!,” because we too once were young and foolish in other ways. In fact, if it’s truly a spiritual sequel to anything it’s “Magic Mike XXL”: a good times romp that ends with the realization that the good times one day end. Drink up, if you can.