Richard Linklater is undoubtedly one of the greatest voices and leaders in the independent film world and his latest film, a spiritual successor to Dazed & Confused, is yet another confirmation of his ability to capture moments in time that are so universal and which resonate with audiences of all sorts. When I first saw Dazed & Confused, I really enjoyed it but it never quite struck the chord it did with so many others. Along comes Boyhood, which couldn’t be more different, offering a look into the life of a boy from 6 to 18. I am the same age as Ellar was and his experiences mirrored many aspects of my childhood and transition into adulthood. The film ends with Mason getting to college, open to whatever may come his way during this next step in his life. Just as his journey was beginning in the film, so was mine. Now, only two years later, Linklater offers up Everybody Wants Some and that connection so many felt for Dazed is alive and well in me after the screening.
Filled to the brim with the usual college suspects, the film centers around an East Texas college baseball team, as freshman pitcher Jacob (Blake Jenner) attempts to navigate the newfound freedom presented to him. The prospect of no adult supervision, living with your buddies and having the ability to essentially do what you want is equally amazing as it is terrifying. Readily surrounded by the teammates with whom he’ll be living, the testosterone fueled players exhibit the different variations of guys you see and interact with in college. From the drunk and the stoner, to the overly competitive jock types, you really get the sense that you know this band of misfits whom you can’t help laughing along with. Among the cast are standouts Glenn Powell (master of the bullshit), Wyatt Russel (the philosophy waxing stoner), Ryan Guzman (one of the team’s leaders), Will Brittain (the deep southern roommate you have), Tyler Hoechlin (senior star and team leader), Austin Amelio (the guy who always makes stupid bets), and J. Quinton Johnson (the buddy who also keeps your life in check).
Blending the hits of 1980 with the disco craze, the emerging punk rock scene, and even the honky-tonk hoedown scene, Linklater’s approach to capturing the essence of college and a world of possibilities is as fun as its ever been. Sure, the guys are all trying to get laid, but I’ll be damned if I didn’t want to throw on my dancing shoes to join their great time. As someone who grew up in the pacific northwest, the idea of honky-tonk dancing seemed so strange to me a year ago. I’m not overly fond of country, but as the film masterfully demonstrates, it’s the people and the environment which dictate what kind of time you have. Everything seems a little less ridiculous when you’re not doing it alone and even if it may seem weird to people, that’s when you get to have the real fun (so says the wise stoner who muses throughout the film.) The brotherhood and comradery between the cast is what keeps the enjoyment level so high and consistent, as you see just how ridiculous “men” can be.
Aside from the general college shenanigans which present themselves to the freshest faces on campus, Jake’s character also finds himself analyzing each scenario he’s in and how certain people behave and react. Everyone is trying to find their footing when attempting to make friends and the beauty of college is the aspect of a fresh start. No one really knows who you were back in high school and it truly doesn’t matter there, as people are starting to do more of what they love and are able to surround themselves with like-minded people. The bummer that comes along with that fact is that whomever you were at high school also doesn’t matter. Theses baseball players were all the best from their schools and now they’re barely good enough to be on the team. Whether you were popular, great at sports, involved with clubs, or someone who stood out for any reason, it’s tough adjusting to the fact that there are people who are just as good as you, if not better.
The weight of your major and the life you’re going to lead after that are ever-present in the back of your mind, but when you’re around the right group of people who really confirms why you’re there, those terrifying thoughts seem to ease away. There’s also the prospect of finding someone special and having the ability to go out and spend time with them in a completely different way. The troubles of high school dating go out the window and the college dating life presents itself with all its oddities and mentalities. The time you get to spend with someone is now your own and that freedom is something wonderful, as you not only learn more about them, but yourself as well. You discover what you really enjoy and value as the number of compatible mates increases tenfold around you. There are so many people you pass by every day and at times it can be terrifying, but the moments you have with people stick with you in ways you never assumed.
I’ve no doubt that this film is going to play extremely well with everyone, but it’s definitely a bro movie (not that that’s a bad thing). With every group of guys you get together, you’re always going to have competition, but you’re also going to have a lot of brotherly bonding through the most absurd back-and-forth and any social situation. Whether they’re getting drunk and going dancing, hitting the bong and analyzing music and the history of language, chasing skirts, or out on the field, the hilarity never stops and they continue to grill each other mercilessly. While all of those things may seem like your standard weekend or daily activities, the college atmosphere really enhances the enjoyment of it all and some of the uniqueness too. Many people, myself included, come to college with the mentality that things were going to be drastically different and perhaps singular to the confines of your campus and dorm room. I can only speak to my own experiences, but the college student mentality is one of the most fascinating things. Are we acting or behaving a certain way because it’s “college” and that’s what you’re supposed to do? We also ask ourselves why the fun and that lifestyle has to end, but just as this films end, class will keep you mind at bay until you really get to that crossroad in your life.
Everybody Wants Some speaks to the inner youth in everyone and it does a stellar job of conveying deep messages within the seemingly carefree weekend these guys experience leading up to school. Whether it transports you back in time, bares resemblance to your current lifestyle, or provides you something to look forward to, the film is a celebration of a truly different world that exists within the one we’re already in. As with all his films, Linklater finds a perfect balance of seemingly aimless activities which reveal more about the characters, who are more like all of us. You don’t have to like baseball to have a great time at a baseball game, just as you don’t have to love punk rock to go and have a wild night. We don’t have to like everything, but we shouldn’t rule anything out because it seems so strange. After all, people are pretty strange and sometimes embracing something new can lead you to see the world and live your life a different way. So, please go and celebrate with this truly terrific cast and crew who make a-couple-hours fly by in such an enjoyable time.
Everybody Wants Some Trailer