When I watched Dazed and Confused for the first time in the mid 90s, I was quite enamoured with the experience. It’s the ultimate laid-back party film about the last day of school in the 1970s. It made me feel like I was born in the wrong era, a time of more freedom, loose rules, celebrated traditions and really damn good music. Richard Linklater’s love letter to the end of high school in a Texas town showed all the different cliques meeting together for one final party and it really makes the audience want to be a part of it. This is a pretty major accomplishment for a director making his second film, the first non independent feature in his career.
There were a few things besides Linklater’s incredible attention to realistic detail that made Dazed and Confused the classic film, with infinite re-watch value, that it is today. The dialogue in this movie touches on so many different issues; from class hierarchy to existentialism and marijuana conspiracies. Much of the script is quotable. Another large aspect is the brilliant cast of unknown actors. Now it reads as a who’s who of famous names including Matthew McConaughey, Ben Affleck, Rene Zellweger, Milla Jovovich, Parker Posey and many more. Dazed and Confused is a story that revolved around an every man, Mitch, played by Linklater’s man of the moment, Wiley Wiggins. The film was, for lack of a better term, lightning in a bottle.
Thirteen years after releasing that pivotal film, Richard Linklater returns to that atmosphere and feeling with something he calls a “spiritual sequel” to Dazed and Confused. No, we don’t see the return of Mitch, Pink or Wooderson at all, but a new pack of characters as we follow them along the weekend leading up to the first day of class at a Texas college. This time our “Mitch” is Jake (Blake Jenner), a freshman baseball pitcher on a scholarship to the college, moving into the baseball house just on the outskirts of campus. He quickly meets the top four members of the college team consisting of the non-stop talker Finnigan (Glen Powell), charismatic Kenny Roeper (Ryan Guzman), sage advisor Dale (Quinton Johnson) and heavy hitting team leader Glen McReynolds (Tyler Hoechlin) who is quick to reveal to Jake that he doesn’t like pitchers and they won’t be friends.
As Jake is given the tour through the house, he is introduced to the other freshmen on the team which include the California stoner Willoughby (Wyatt Russell), mad-man Niles the “Raw Dog” (Juston Street), country boy Billy (Will Brittain), who is mercilessly called Beuter by the rest of the team, and Plummer (Temple Baker), who becomes fast friends with our main character. Right at the top of the first day, the team coach comes in to lay down the ground rules for the residents of the house going forward: no drugs or alcohol and no girls in the bedrooms. You have to assume that these rules are broken almost immediately as the boys head out to the local club, The Sound Machine.
The “spirit” of Dazed and Confused is very much alive in Everybody Wants Some!! as the film immediately feels like it is a companion conversation to the seminal Richard Linklater movie. Many of Dazed and Confused’s dialogue and focus revolves around the uncertainty of the lives of those who graduated from high school: what does their future hold for them? Being a student will no longer dictate their day-to-day routine, where will that leave them?
Everybody Wants Some!! deals with these same sorts of questions and existential doubts, but in a different vein. Every-one of our main character’s lives revolves around baseball and the upcoming season. The ultimate goal is to win the national championship but after that, what? At one point of the film Plummer is marvelling at the “regular people”, who occupy the same town as the college. “What’s their deal? I know why we’re here and that’s for baseball, but what about them?”, which seems to skirt the main underlying reality that there’s a close proximity to the locals and Plummer. Time is the factor in which he goes from baseball star to regular Joe Townie. It’s really interesting that within a fun party romp film, Linklater can still sneak in these very human and relatable moments that flesh out the complete reality of life and give you some actual moments of reflection.
Again like Dazed and Confused, Everybody Wants Some!! will be an early showing of the next crop of big stars in Hollywood, the major stand out being Glen Powell. Already having turned heads in the Ryan Murphy horror comedy television series Scream Queens, Powell’s comedic timing is truly something to marvel at as he doesn’t provide a dull moment throughout and will be, most likely, the most successful of the bunch. The best thing about the entire cast of the film is there’s not a forgettable person on the bunch. Jenner nails his role as Jake, endearing himself to the audience immediately. Wyatt Russell’s uncanny resemblance to his father Kurt was a bit of a mind-blower. Wyatt is a haircut away from reprising the role of McCready in The Thing.
Going into Everybody Wants Some!! I was more than prepared for another great Richard Linklater film but nothing to the level of Dazed and Confused. I am more than happy to admit that the film blew through my expectations and I even felt a goofy smile on my face the entire time. The movie is so much fun and it knows it, demanding multiple viewings that I will definitely give it again and again. I don’t like saying things like “instant classic” but that describes this one way too well to not use it. I loved this movie and I’m sure everybody wants some of it as well, a clear five out of five.