“Everybody Wants Some!!” is writer/director Richard Linklater’s return to the world of “Dazed and Confused,” his paean to his high school days in Texas in the 1970s, and here he is back with another love letter, this time to his college days in Texas in the fall of 1980. If you saw “Dazed and Confused” and thought that movie had too much drama going on and too much plot, then “Everybody Wants Some!!” is the movie for you.
Just bros hanging out doing bro stuff. That’s the essence of “Everybody Wants Some!!,” though this movie also seems to be saying “not all bros are bad, bro.” The story is mostly centered on incoming freshman and student athlete Jake (Blake Jenner) and it all takes place on the weekend leading up to the first day of classes. Jake arrives at an off-campus house set up for the school’s baseball players, where he meets his ragtag group of teammates on a team that we are told repeatedly is the best college baseball team in the state. And then Jake just spends the next three days hanging out with these guys, going to parties, cruising for chicks, drinking, smoking, playing cards, you know, just chilling, man.
Oh, did you want an actual plot? Well, there’s a problem there, because you see, typically plots involve drama. You know, like obstacles, and problems to overcome, and characters not getting along and then learning to get along and maybe even like each other, character growth, stuff like that. “Dazed and Confused” even featured a couple of little stories about freshmen trying not to get hazed by seniors, and a specific couple who spend the whole day pretty much circling each other before swooping in to each other’s arms, and a lead character trying to decide between his totally chill lifestyle and his obligations to his high school football team. In “Everybody Wants Some!!,” the biggest problem anyone has is a lack of a private place to hook up with some fellow students. Even then, there’s a scene in which a character argues with his roommate about letting him use their bedroom to have sex, and he doesn’t win the argument, so he just takes the girl to the backseat of his car and it all works out anyway.
There is no plot, and really no story, this movie is more like a tone poem to an idealized time period, in which a group of white dudes and their token black friend move from clique to clique, easily integrating themselves within any subculture necessary in order to woo their women, often successfully. They hang out at a disco and then just head over to the country bar, even changing into country appropriate clothing along the way, and they even do the line dancing properly. At no point do any other dudes who consider themselves “real cowboys” become threatened by the presence of these young imposters, no one accidentally tries picking up the wrong woman resulting in a misunderstanding that leads to a bar fight or anything like that. No, that would require drama to happen, and this thing is drama free, man, it is all about having a good time, ya feel?
This is a movie in which a character can pine for one girl, hook up with a different girl that night, and then go back to the first girl just a couple of days later without any consequence. The two girls don’t meet awkwardly, the first lust-driven hook up didn’t interfere with his more emotional and intimate hook up, it’s all good, bro, it’s just college. There are a couple of teammates who do not get along with the other players, but this stuff is all played for laughs and one of these two players actually disappears for about three-quarters of the film anyway. Otherwise it is all kumbaya, let’s go to the punk rock show and totally fit in there as well because we’re like so open minded to the possibilities of chill.
Not to say this is bad, as “Everybody Wants Some!!” is just more concerned with having little philosophical conversations and showing people having a good time, all while some greatest hits type classic rock plays in the background to remind you to have a good time yourself. And the movie is a good time, after all. The situations and set ups are humorous, these guys tease each other quite relentlessly and play a few good gags on each other, the lighter side of hazing, if you will, and it is all in the name of fun. Just sit back, relax, and pretend to be one of the bros and have a bro-y good time.
Worth noting is the fact that this movie’s marketing lets you know that it is from the person behind the nostalgic for the 1970’s “Dazed and Confused,” and proclaims that with this new movie, Richard Linklater will bring you the 1980’s in a similar way. They come right out and say it in big bold letters in the trailer:
The problem is that this movie is set in the fall of 1980, so we don’t even have one full year of the 1980’s represented in “Everybody Wants Some!!” and in fact in many ways this movie is really just like 1980 in that it is the culmination of the 1970’s. There is still disco and rollerskating, and colorful shirts and long hair and sideburns galore, but it is just starting to give way to country music and the emergence of pastel colors in clothing. Marijuana was still the drug du jour, and 18 year olds could still drink legally, Carl Sagan was popular and required reading; this is the least 80’s movie an 80’s movie has ever been. A movie set in 1980 can’t be about the 80’s, just mathematically and logically speaking. So this makes no sense.
Anyway, still a fun movie, just not much going on in it. Some bros hanging out drinking beers and meeting women, that’s about it. And a teeny bit of baseball thrown in for good measure because America.