Richard Linklater’s latest film, Everybody Wants Some!!, is a return to Linklater’s classic style; Linklater’s early work—Slacker, Dazed and Confused, and Waking Life, to name a few—are defined by Linklater’s prowess for not only writing large amounts of dialogue for an even bigger cast but also for directing said cast across a loosely-joined narrative cohesively. Stylistically, not only does Everybody Wants Some!! harken back to Linklater’s older filmography, but Linklater has called the film a spiritual sequel to Dazed and Confused, a move which ties Everybody Wants Some!! to his cinematic roots even more so.
Despite the connections to his previous films, however, Everybody Wants Some!! is much more than a yearning for the nostalgic pull of the past. Everybody Wants Some!! differs from its predecessors in how Linklater uses his style for dialogue and groups of people. Unlike Slacker or Waking Life, Linklater isn’t passing the puck between characters that tread the same world. Here, we follow one central character, Jake (Blake Jenner) but more importantly Linklater emphasizes the relationship between Jake and his new roommates who also serve as his baseball teammates.
The film takes place in Texas across one weekend, the weekend before the start of the first semester to be exact. Jake is an incoming freshman and pitcher for the baseball team, and the film begins with him moving into a house set up by the University exclusively for the baseball team.
The rest of the morning is spent with Jake meeting the rest of his roommates and from there, to give a loose summary of the film, the rest of the weekend is spent partying.
It’s Everybody Wants Some!!’s roots in the baseball genre that truly make it distinct. While the act of actually playing baseball is minimal, the consequences of playing the sport are all there. Namely, the presence of camaraderie, competitiveness, and in this particular case, the male ego.
There’s an element of timing that must be complimented on Linklater’s use of characters. Linklater doesn’t relegate his less important characters to the background but instead crams as many characters as he can into the frame’s foreground. Many scenes play out like small vignettes of group activity with a multitude of characters doing different things, although all related by the need for
competition. Characters remain distinct while the vignette format furthers the themes of the film and keeps the comedy fresh.
The result of what happens on-screen in Everybody Wants Some!! can be seen as the answer to the question, what happens when you fill a small room with a group of young, competitive, athletes?
Consequently, the existence of the muscle-bound young boys of Everybody Wants Some!! in Linklater’s filmography as a whole seem contrarian to the usual suspect of males Linklater uses: skinny average joes. In short, the characters of Everybody Wants Some!! align more with the character of Fred O’ Bannion (Ben Affleck) in Dazed and Confused than they do Mitch Kramer (Wiley Wiggins) or Mason Jr. (Ellar Coltrane). Yet, aside from the exploration of how fierce competition can dominate even the banalities of one’s life—one scene of comedic sincerity revolves around who can take the biggest bong hit—Everybody Wants Some!! warns against the stereotypes that divide college cliques. In one night, the boys go from a disco club to a cowboy one and later on, even go to a music show under the guise of being punks. Linklater uses the premise of a baseball team in order to show, first, how the testosterone-fueled group behave and secondly, how other groups—be they punks, cowboys, or artists—behave, through their interactions with the aforementioned jocks.
The inclusion of other cliques allow Everybody Wants Some!! to evolve past its limits as a simple baseball film, because it makes the characters universal. It’s not so much a film solely focused on baseball teammates so much as it is on what it means to be young and discovering who you are amongst similar people. That idea may be one which will cause people—older people especially—to scoff since the idea itself seems confined to the stereotype of young people performing or saying things they will find embarrassing in retrospect (we’ve all been there) but this is hardly a proper critique against the film.
Yes, there are lines of dialogue that embody the embarrassing secrets of teenagers and even caused a cringe within myself, but that’s only because Linklater has captured the spirit of youth and not because the writing is bad. In bringing out that spirit, Linklater doesn’t use the snarkiness of irony or sarcasm to dismiss anyone but embraces their ideas and presents them wholeheartedly.