You know you are getting old when you see a movie that you have reviewed but you forget you reviewed it and review it again. In 2016, I gave the picture 4 stars and wrote: Richard Linklater’s astute command of time and place is forever proven by his masterpiece, Dazed and Confused, which captured a Texas town’s high school circa 1976 in all its bell-bottomed, long-haired, keg-in-the-woods glory. Everybody Wants Some! ain’t Dazed and Confused. Focusing on a young college baseball player’s matriculation at a Texas college, Linklater appears to be satisfying an 80s-era checklist. Mud wrestling. Check. Disco. Check. Mechanical bull. Check. “Get the Knack!” Check. And while Dazed and Confused gave you insight into the jocks, the stoners, the geeks, the parents, the coaches, the teachers and the townies, Everybody Wants Some! is limited to the hyper-male competitive environment of the baseball team, a group that parties hard, jumps on your Achilles at every opportunity, and challenges each other in all respects, when not dime-store philosophizing about winning, commitment, pot and “pussy.” Yet, with all its flaws and limitations, I dug the movie. Linklater lovingly recreates the art of male bullshitting, which, granted, is not for everyone; the wonder of all the possibility of college; and the camaraderie of sports, all to an unabashedly “classic rock” soundtrack. it’s an acquired taste, and this is a very light film that at its best is merely charming, but I was smiling throughout.
I have apparently become more besotted. My review today:
The party band from Houston, Old 97s, have a couple of tunes off of Fight Songs – “19” and “Oppenheimer” – that are clean, crisp pop paeans to young love and the wonder that goes with it. Richard Linklater’s Everybody Wants Some! is the filmic equivalent of those songs, where a college freshman baseball player (Jake, played by Blake Jenner) arrives at school in Texas (where else? This is Linklater) and is immediately immersed in the camaraderie of his carefree team, a welcoming party culture, and the early throes of young love with someone who is outside of his normal ambit, a theater major. There is nothing cynical or particularly challenging in the film. In fact, it is so conflict-averse and hellbent on nostalgic tomfoolery, it makes Linklater’s classic forerunner Dazed and Confused seem almost dour. And I loved every minute of it. All the silly machismo, the pranks, and the primal dance of young college kids. All the 80s music. All of the doggedly upbeat fun and the sweetness of the jocks.
When Jake goes over to the dorm room of the girl who has flirted with him on his first day (Zoey Deutch), and they introduce themselves, I was transported.
Some might find the picture maudlin, or pollyannish, or even retrograde. As one stinker predictably opined, “It’s as if Linklater is bound by a bro code that obliges him to present these guys in a basically uncritical light.”
But as they say, I laughed, and while I did not cry, I laughed some more and became a little wistful. Great time of a movie.