There’s a rather cunning use of exclamation marks in the title of Everybody Wants Some!! – it becomes impossible to discuss the film without sounding rampantly enthusiastic, no matter what you’re saying. Just try it. “I was a bit bored by Everybody Wants Some!!” It doesn’t work – who’s ever sounded that excited by their own boredom?
Thankfully, it’s a tricky tactic that the film doesn’t mean – it comes bundled with its own infectious enthusiasm, an effervescent energy that’s hard to resist. Richard Linklater’s spiritual sequel to his own 1993 hit Dazed and Confused picks up just a few years after where that film left off, swapping the end of high school in the ‘70s for the first weekend of college in 1980. None of that film’s cast or characters return, but the tone remains, from the sprawling ensemble and drunken philosophising right down to the intertitles counting down to the start of class.
Blake Jenner is Jake, a college freshman on a baseball scholarship, moving into one of the two houses occupied entirely by his teammates. They’re primed for full-on debauchery from the outset, making the most of the three days before classes kick off – with all the beer, weed, and girls you’d expect that to involve.
Dazed and Confused looks positively chaste next to Everybody Wants Some!!, its protracted build up to some tentative kissing rapidly outpaced here. “Welcome to the wonderful world of college pussy,” Jake is told as he enters local disco Sound Machine, and the group’s commitment to doing “what it takes to get laid” never wavers from there on out.
This is no mere crude college comedy, though. It’s a Linklater film, and the writer-director brings with him his usual taste for late-night musing, as weed and beer pave the way for a frank conversations about sex, identity, and what the future holds.
There’s little melancholy to be found – while Dazed and Confused pondered the end of the school year, Everybody Wants Some!! looks almost relentlessly forwards, carried by a boundless optimism about the years ahead. It’s an idyllic – and idealised – perspective on college life, almost all of the worry and insecurity and homesickness polished out, leaving a pristine sheen of pure enjoyment.
It is enjoyable though. The baseball team are a boisterous, charming bunch, overwhelmingly competitive and unrealistically witty, trading jibes just as quickly as they have each other’s backs when the need arises. “It’s primal,” Glen Powell’s Finnegan explains, their “constant fuckwithery” just part of the way they forge their team – rampant homoeroticism and all.
Powell is hilarious, carrying the same brash bravado he brought to the small screen on Scream Queens last year, while J. Quinton Johnson is equally charming as teammate Dale and Juston Street threatens to steal the show as the utterly arrogant, utterly bizarre Jay Niles. Jenner isn’t quite the quintessential Linklater protagonist – his muscles are that bit too defined, his hair not quite floppy enough – but there’s the same innocent thoughtfulness carried through so many of the director’s films. At times he threateningly borders blandness, but this is a film carried by its ensemble, and the rest of his teammates are memorable enough to keep things moving.
Everybody Wants Some!! isn’t Linklater’s most thoughtful film, or his most boisterous, but it’s perhaps his most successful fusion of the two yet. Rich, funny, and irresistible, it’s sheer delight from start to finish!!
Words by Dominic Preston