Set to the propulsive beat of “My Sharona,” Everybody Wants Some!! opens with its hero on the road, car packed with essentials: notably turntable and record collection. It’s 1980, and he’s en route to his freshman year of college on a baseball scholarship. In three days (and counting), class will begin. But before then, Jake will have to find his place among the tribe of sexed-up stoners that populate his frat house, enduring the hazing, testosterone, and machismo that ooze from the competitive compound like puss from a pimple.
The image of a young man somewhere between adolescence and adulthood on the open road recalls the end of Dazed and Confused, Richard Linklater’s beloved bit of Altman-esque, coming-of-age anti-nostalgia. (Everybody Wants Some!! has been aggressively marketed as a “spiritual sequel” to Dazed from its conception.) But that image also echoes the end of Linklater’s Boyhood, and Linklater has acknowledged the connection in interviews, confirming that Everybody Wants Some!! is equally an extension of both.
Linklater loves playing with time and characters. His most recent, Boyhood, was famously produced over a period of twelve years. That movie was criticized by some for its socially confining perspective, as if there was something inherently restrictive in dramatizing the maturation of a privileged, white male. And while Linklater’s trademark affability propelled its spirit, Boyhood’s ambitious construction begged to be taken as something universal. It was the first time Linklater’s unassuming geniality felt fundamentally at odds with his material.
Despite the egalitarian promise of its title, Everybody takes that restrictive perspective to an even further extreme. Focusing his attention squarely on the jocks, Linklater devotes enormous amounts of screen time to their stoner philosophizing, locker-room pranks, and well of adolescent misogyny. Their antics are the same kind of off-putting, hyper-macho behavior that drives movies like Porkey’s; and by the end, one gets the sense that they’ve spent a lot of time hanging out with a bunch of guys who’d be intolerable in real life.
Linklater is one of our most quietly ambitious moviemakers, and he’s evolved tremendously over the past twenty years. While Dazed remains as diverting as ever, it’s still a diversion alongside the quotidian profundities of his Before trilogy. Next to Celine and Jesse, Floyd and Wooderson feel stuck in time. Of course, that was the joke: L-I-V-I-N is the one thing Wooderson doesn’t do. With Everybody Wants Some!!, Linklater seems stuck in Boyhoood.
EVERYBODY WANTS SOME!! Written and directed by Richard Linklater. Starring Blake Jenner, Glen Powell, and Wyatt Russell. In theaters April 15th.