Everybody Wants Some!! is director Richard Linklater's heartfelt ode to male bonding, the kind where a group of guys who've just left home for the first time feel out each other's strengths and weaknesses and solely come together as a loyal unit.
The movie's about a baseball team at a fictional East Texas university in the days leading up to the start of school in 1980. The new freshman and transfer players arrive at the team's off-campus housing, get razzed and hazed by the veterans and begin to build the trust that will make them a successful team come spring. They explore all the life a college town has to offer, visiting a regular bar, disco, a cowboy bar and a punk rock club before their first unofficial practice. They meet some women and everyone ends up at a bohemian art party thrown by the theater students. Oh, and there's mud wrestling at a party they throw at their own houses during the course of a weekend.
There's no big dramatic arc, just a series of incidents where the guys test each other's mettle. Linklater (and studio marketing) called this the "spiritual sequel" to Dazed & Confused, his 1993 classic about the last day at a Texas high school in 1976. It's true that Mitch, the rising high school freshman and baseball pitcher who's at the center of Dazed, is exactly the same age as Jake, the rising college freshman and baseball pitcher who's at the center of the new movie. But Linklater is a much better filmmaker now and Everybody Wants Some!! seems to have more in common with the Oscar-nominated Boyhood with its attention to detail and understanding of how small moments can actually be the defining ones in life.
Anyone who's been to boot camp should recognize what's going on in the movie. In fact, a military-themed film inspired by this one would be welcome. Hollywood should get on that right away.
One of Richard Linklater's talents is his ability to find and cast young talent who are capable of going on to successful careers. The list of actors who got their first big break in Dazed is amazing: Matthew McConaughey, Ben Affleck, Parker Posey, Jason London, Adam Goldberg, Joey Lauren Adams, Cole Hauser, Rory Cochrane and Nicky Katt all got their big breaks in that movie. You may not recognize all of their names but you'd recognize almost all of their faces: each has dozens of credits over the last twenty years.
The new movie introduces a group of equally promising young actors. Blake Jenner, Tyler Hoechlin, Wyatt Russell, Glen Powell, J. Quinton Johnson, Ryan Guzman and Zoey Deutch should all have a shot at becoming household names.
This one probably won't get the same kind of award recognition that went to Boyhood, since it doesn't feature the same elaborate filmmaking feat of being shot in pieces over more than a decade. But Everybody Wants Some!! is at least a good a movie.