Movie Review: “Everybody Wants Some!!”

Blake Jenner, Glen Powell, J. Quinton Johnson, Temple Baker, Zoey Deutch, Wyatt Russell, Austin Amelio, Tyler Hoechlin, Ryan Guzman
Richard Linklater

Nobody makes “slice of life” movies quite like Richard Linklater. From his directorial debut “Slacker,” to the 1993 cult classic “Dazed and Confused,” to the Oscar-nominated “Boyhood,” Linklater thrives at creating films that you experience rather than simply watch. His latest movie, “Everybody Wants Some!!,” has been proclaimed as a spiritual sequel to both “Dazed and Confused” and “Boyhood,” and although its connection to the latter is tenuous at best (based solely on the idea that the new film picks up where the other story left off), “Everybody Wants Some!!” shares more in common with the former. In addition to having a similar vibe, Linklater’s coming-of-age companion piece explores many of the same themes and is once again fueled by an awesome soundtrack.

While “Dazed and Confused” followed the adventures of various social cliques on the last day of school in 1976, “Everybody Wants Some!!” focuses exclusively on a rowdy college baseball team in southern Texas. Due to student overcrowding, the university has provided the team with a pair of houses off-campus for the players to live in without any adult supervision. That freedom comes with a couple conditions – namely, no alcohol inside the house or female guests upstairs – but it doesn’t stop the self-entitled group of athletes from breaking those rules immediately and often over the course of one party-filled weekend in the summer of 1980 before classes are scheduled to begin. That’s pretty much the full extent of the story, as the guys amble around town trying to pick up women while passing the time with beer, competitions, more beer, stupid pranks, still more beer and even a little baseball.

“Everybody Wants Some!!” is refreshingly simple and loose, almost to a fault; it’s so unburdened by plot that after spending the first 30 minutes waiting for something significant to happen, you’re eventually compelled to just kick back and go along for the ride. Thankfully, Linklater’s movie is so damn entertaining that the near-complete lack of character development goes largely unnoticed. It’s like hanging out with a bunch of your closest friends for two hours, and while that could have been a disaster with the wrong actors, Linklater’s mostly unknown cast has such amazing chemistry that it all seems effortless, as if they’ve known each other for years.

Blake Jenner delivers a serviceable performance as the quietly sensitive protagonist Jake, but it’s Glen Powell (the breakout star of the Fox horror-comedy “Scream Queens”) who steals the show as the group’s smooth-talking ladies’ man. His character is the nearest thing the film has to a Matthew McConaughey type, lighting up every scene that he’s in. Wyatt Russell is also good as the hippie philosopher Willoughby; Juston Street earns some laughs as a temperamental pitcher with a huge chip on his shoulder; and Zoey Deutch brings a much-needed female perspective to this unapologetic sausage fest (seriously, the movie exhibits “Top Gun” levels of homoeroticism) as Jake’s love interest.

“Everybody Wants Some!!” isn’t as quotable as “Dazed and Confused,” and the forced attempts at philosophical discussions are classic Linklater in the worst way, but it’s still a really enjoyable period comedy that perfectly captures small-town college life through Linklater’s nostalgia-tinted glasses. Though it’s difficult to tell whether “Everybody Wants Some!!” will attain the same cult status as its predecessor, the movie is such a fun and lighthearted throwback to the early 1980s, as well as the sex comedies from that era, that it wouldn’t be much of a surprise if it does.