Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused wasn’t his first film, but it remains among his most beloved and iconic efforts. Indeed, the cult favorite helped launch the careers of Ben Affleck, Matthew McConaughey and Parker Posey, among others. So, when word spread that Linklater was making a spiritual sequel to that film, a number of eyebrows understandably raised. Could he capture the same lightning in a bottle? Would it feel like a pale imitation? Could it stand on its own? Now, as Everybody Wants Some hits theaters, we have answers.
Where Dazed and Confused following rising high school seniors and freshman on the last day of school in 1976, Everybody Wants Some follows the antics of the members of a college baseball team in the three days preceding the start of term. Our hero in this journey, Jake, is an incoming freshman pitcher who moves into one of two baseball houses with his teammates, most of whom are older.
The guys no sooner hear the ground rules than they begin to smash every one of them in the act of getting to know each other. As Jake adjusts to no longer being the biggest fish in a small pond, wryly observing, “everything here is a competition,” he gets to know the others. There’s McReynolds, the team’s resident All-American who hates pitchers and nearly collapses the roof filling up his water bed. Then there’s Willoughby, an older transfer student with an affinity for weed who has every episode of The Twilight Zone painstakingly recorded on VHS. There’s Finnegan, the group’s most suave Casanova who spouts off tangents about everything from gender norms to astrology to get the ladies. And they are only a small part of the team. The sprawling ensemble people’s the rest of the team with equally dynamic characters who feel lived-in from the word go.
We follow Blake as he and his teammates chase girls, bloody each other playing knuckles, slice baseballs in half mid-air, try to blend in at a theater party, mosh at a punk show and generally just pal around.
Like classic Richard Linklater fare, it’s not plot-driven, it’s people-based and carried by dialogue. It’s a snapshot of a group of people in a certain time, at a certain place, at a certain point in their lives. What happens to people in the hours of “nothing” they pass has always been a point of fascination for Linklater, from Before Sunrise to Boyhood and now beyond. If those films didn’t do it for you, this one won’t either. But if you want to revisit the restless, empty days of youth and delve, once more, into some of Linklater’s favorite themes, Everybody Wants Some will be alright, alright, alright by you.