To be honest, I was a little worried when I first saw the trailer for Everybody Wants Some. I mean sure, writer/director Richard Linklater has rarely been one to disappoint, and expectations might have been insurmountably high for me personally, considering his last film, Boyhood is maybe my favorite film of the last decade or so. But from what I saw in the trailer, this newest endeavor from a director who’s always shown a down-to-earth sensitivity for human beings, seemed to be about a bunch of jock bro’s just bein’ jock bro’s. Which to be fair, is not an inaccurate description of this movie, and yet somehow there’s such a deep investment in these characters and their desire to just embrace all of the freedom and excess of your first year of college, that I somehow came away kind of loving it.
Everybody Wants Some has been labeled as a “spiritual sequel” to Linklater’s 1993 film Dazed And Confused (because I guess studios are just that afraid to release a movie unless it’s some kind of sequel), but in a way it feels like just as much of a sequel to Boyhood. Much like one of the final images in Boyhood, this film starts with a young man on the open road headed towards his first week of college, though in this case it happens to be Jake (played by Blake Jenner), and the year happens to be 1980. Jake quickly becomes acquainted with his college’s baseball house — basically a fraternity composed entirely of the school’s baseball team, and as these jacked-up knuckleheads await the start of class (which is three days away), hijinks overwhelmingly ensue.
It’s hard for me not to marvel at how much this movie made me care about a bunch of wise-cracking jocks and their quest for poon, but I suppose this feat that Linklater slyly pulls off can be attributed to a number of factors. For one, I think he understands the mentality of the baseball player, who can be a bit more quirky than than, say, a block-headed football goon. Glenn Powell’s character Finnegan may be the finest example of this, as he comes off as the house intellectual, when he’s really just a guy who’s good at talking, whether anything he says has any actual meaning or not. And I really love the way the movie taps into that kind of blind confidence, as it’s a quality that I think a lot of athletes are always bound to have, and it’s really fun to see the idiotic lengths these guys are willing to go in pursuit of being the toppest of all the top dawgs.
But maybe more than anything else, it’s just the spirit of the thing, man. Much like the blustery confidence of its main characters, Everybody Wants Some is a movie that has a kind of energy and freewheeling comradery that’s hard not to get caught up in, as these guys more or less go from party to party making fun of each other for two hours. But at the same time, I think the movie’s smart enough to realize that these moments don’t last forever. There’s this underlying idea throughout everything that these guys are not always going to be able to live this fantasy of being the best at what they do and being rewarded for it, as every athlete must eventually accept that he just might not be cut out for the pro’s.
There is also an almost insane adherence to the group mentality of this movie, as it feels as though the group of guys at the heart of it are practically never separated from each other. Which makes sense, considering that these ballplayers are all learning how to coexist as a team. However, I did appreciate when in the movie’s second half it does eventually pay its dues to the other types of weirdos living on campus. The baseball guys eventually find themselves going to a punk show as well as an artsy theater-people party, as they all try to make themselves fit in with these crowds that they clearly wouldn’t have given a second thought to in high school.
These scenes drive home the fact that college is a time in which to find yourself, and they do a nice job of commenting on this sort of identity crisis that tends to happen at that age, but without losing sight of the fact that this type of identity crisis can be kind of fun to get lost in. Also, it was nice to see some representation of the kinds of kids I went to college with, since I went to an art school that was big enough to have its own sports team, which weirdly enough made the jocks at our school seem like the outcasts. But with Everybody Wants Some, Linklater clearly knows that these kinds of labels become obsolete as you make your way into adulthood, as it’s a film filled with plenty of empathy for young people of any stripe, and also happens to be a whole lot of god damn fun at the same time.