Written and directed by Richard Linklater (Before Midnight, Boyhood), Everybody Wants Some!! is a spiritual sequel to the filmmaker’s seminal 1993 film, Dazed and Confused.
Set in 1980, the movie follows the lives of college baseball players on the last weekend before Fall semester begins. Blake Jenner (Glee) stars as 18-year-old Jake, a freshman pitcher who arrives at Texas Southern University blasting The Knack’s “My Sharona.” His home for the next four years is the run-down, off-campus baseball house; a place for winners. Upon arriving, he is immediately hazed by McReynolds (Tyler Hoechlin), the team’s mustachioed heavy hitter who hates pitchers (especially lefties like Jake).
After surviving his first encounter with the resident hardass, Jake meets the rest of the team. There’s the intellectual ladies’ man Finnegan (Glen Powell), the happy-go-lucky stoner Willoughby (Wyatt Russell), and his hayseed bunkmate Beuter (Will Brittain) among others. After getting settled, Jake and the boys hit the town, singing along with The Sugar Hill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight” on the radio. After Finnegan and Roper (Ryan Guzman) get shot down on a pick-up attempt, Jake catches the eye of Beverly (Zoey Deutch), a theater major who likes the tall, shaggy-haired kid in the backseat because he’s “the quiet guy.”
With only hours remaining before classes start, Jake and his fellow bros set out to have the time of their lives, hopping from disco clubs and country bars to punk rock shows and art-kid keggers. Everybody Wants Some!! is the beer can-crushing fraternity brother of Dazed and Confused and Fast Times at Ridgemont High. A lovingly rendered portrait of the late ’70s and early ’80s, Linklater’s latest is another character-driven non-narrative; a nostalgic trip with a talented cast and – of course – an amazing soundtrack.
While Jenner does a fine job in the leading role, it’s Glen Powell’s charismatic turn as Finnegan that makes Everybody Wants Some!! a memorable entry in Linklater’s insanely impressive filmography. We all knew a guy like Finnegan in college, a jock who could quote Kerouac between keg stands. Powell amiably meanders from one party to the next, much like Matthew McConaughey’s Wooderson in Dazed and Confused. He’s “here for a good time, not a long time.” And like McConaughey’s scene-stealing debut, Powell’s performance will leave audiences saying, “Man, who was that guy?”
Everybody Wants Some!! is more than just a rehash of Dazed and Confused, though; it’s an extension of the director’s Academy Award-nominated 2014 film, Boyhood. It picks up right where that film ends, with a guy showing up at college and meeting his new roommates and a girl. Linklater’s oeuvre shows that, regardless of the decade, adolescence is a universal experience. The trappings of our coming-of-age story – the music, the fashions, the slang – change with time, but the experience remains the same.
Whether it’s a party at the Moon Tower, a brief encounter in Vienna, or singing “Rapper’s Delight” in a car with friends, the characters in Linklater’s films are all about going with the flow and living in the moment. They realize that the present isn’t a minor insignificant preamble to something else; that life actually is in the moments in between. And if at the end of it all, a lifetime is just a collection of those moments, then the characters in Everybody Wants Some!! are seizing them to the fullest, probably while doing a keg stand.