Friday, April 8, 2016


Opening this weekend:

Everybody Wants Some!!Writer-director Richard Linklater calls this a “spiritual sequel” to his 1993 classic Dazed and Confused, and certainly the format is the same. It’s an ensemble period comedy with a soundtrack full of pop hits and a large young ensemble cast of relative unknowns, depicting the tribal rituals around getting high and getting laid.

But while Dazed and Confused was about high school and the ‘70s, Everybody Wants Some!! is about college and the ‘80s. That is to say, it’s about the beginning of college and the beginning of the ‘80s. The central figure is Jake (Blake Jenner) an incoming freshman arriving at “Southeast Texas University” a few days before classes start in 1980.

Jake’s a pitching prospect for the school’s powerhouse baseball team, so he moves into one of the dumpy houses in which his teammates live, drink, party, swap bravado and chase girls. Some of his new housemates are wound-up, obnoxious jerks, and some of them are wound-up, obnoxious nice guys, and you see Jake slip easily into differing levels of friendship with or toleration of them.

It’s striking that both here and in Dazed and Confused, Linklater has unsentimentally focused on the jocks, the sheiks, the alpha dogs, swaggering, confident and, at least by the standards of their age, sexually successful. And in both, he’s managed to make them likable, even touchingly vulnerable at times.

Because of the narrower environment, there isn’t as much variety to the dramatis personae in Everybody Wants Some!! as there was in Dazed. But Linklater does gives us a romantic interest for Jake in the form of a cute theatre student (Zoey Deutch), which allows him to take the guys out of their comfort zone to an artsy theatre party.

When I first saw Dazed and Confused back in ’93, I thought that there wasn’t a scene or a performance that wasn’t funny and completely convincing. But I remember also thinking that the pace was a little unvaried; there wasn’t much rising tension. In the many, many times I’ve seen that film since, I’ve come to see this as a strength, not a weakness—it’s central to how Linklater generates the sense of a window on the past.

Everybody Wants Some!! has this quality as well. I was in 8th Grade in 1976, and I started college in 1980. Both of these films evoked sense memories in me of considerable intensity, and—considering that I “wanted some” as much as everybody else, and was far more frustrated than these guys—surprising affection.

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