I am one of those rare film nerds who isn’t a fan of director Richard Linklater‘s 1993 opus to disco-era slackerdom “Dazed and Confused.” I’ve seen it several times (most recently last year) and it still doesn’t speak to me. “Everybody Wants Some!!” is pretty much the same lame idea of taking a trip down nostalgia lane except instead of a 1970s high school the setting is now a 1980s college. And even I think “Dazed and Confused” is the far better movie of the two.
There’s not much to like about “Everybody Wants Some!!” It feels incredibly stale, nothing more than a tedious exercise in inferior mumblecore that rambles aimlessly all over the place. The film never finds anything important nor even mildly amusing to say. It’s as if Linklater, so desperately wanting to recapture some of his college nostalgia, simply turned on his camera and let his dull actors unskillfully riff on vapid 80s references. There’s a particularly painful early scene (masquerading as effective content) of a group of guys singing along to Rapper’s Delight on the radio. It goes on for such a long time that I started uncomfortably squirming. In retrospect that was the first clear-cut clue that this movie was going to suck.
I hated almost everything about this movie. Is it because I’m not a guy and I don’t “get” the bro humor? Must I understand the comaraderie of sports teammates to find these guys likeable? No, it’s because it’s not funny, the characters are pointless, and there’s no direction in the script (or on screen). The movie often confuses taking a wistful look at the past with compelling content. Sorry, but simply blasting a classic rock soundtrack while laughing at the old school video games and short shorts does not a good movie make. Yeah, it may bring back pleasant memories, but that’s all it does.
Even the film’s premise has no direction! The movie starts with good guy freshman and All-American baseball player Jake (Blake Jenner, the biggest failure in the cast, is woefully inept at carrying a movie) moving into the Texas college team’s testosterone fueled house. There’s lots of sex, lots of profound marijuana fueled conversations, lots of record spinning, lots of fighting, and even some ping pong matches thrown into the mix. Think it sounds fun to hang out with these guys for a couple of hours? It’s not.
The formulaic caricatures start with a by-the-book checklist of cookie cutter characters. There’s a deep-thinker stoner (Wyatt Russell), the angry and slightly deranged loser (Juston Street), the token black guy (J. Quinton Johnson), and two obnoxious alpha male team ringleaders (Ryan Guzman and the admittedly charismatic Wooderson rip-off performance from Glenn Powell). Adding to the tedious story is a stupid romantic subplot about fine arts major Beverly (an irritating performance by Zoey Deutch) and a mildly mean-spirited one revolving around the bullying of a sissy hillbilly teammate (Will Brittain).
I can’t even begin to describe how truly god-awful this movie is. It’s a complete waste of time, it becomes increasingly more of a chore to sit through as it rambles on, and I regret not walking out before it was over. Don’t make the same mistake I did.
“Everybody Wants Some!!” bills itself as a ‘spiritual sequel’ to Director Richard Linklater‘s earlier film, “Dazed and Confused” (spiritual because the two movies feature none of the same actors or characters). But while the two share some similarities, “Everybody Wants Some!!” is not even close to being as good as its so-called predecessor.
“Everybody Wants Some!!” follows Jake (Blake Jenner), a freshman baseball player and several of his teammates during the weekend immediately before his first day of classes at a university in Texas. He hangs out with some of his housemates, they go to parties and bars, meet girls . . . and that’s pretty much it. The guys and girls play baseball, ping pong, pool, and Space Invaders and have some intellectual and quasi-philosophical conversations. But nothing really “happens” in this movie.
Yes, the same could be said for “Dazed and Confused.” But in that movie, we follow a number of different teenagers from different cliques and from different backgrounds; we don’t stay only with one group for the whole movie, which is the case in “Everybody Wants Some!!” In “Dazed,” there is at least one character with whom each of us can identify, and we can remember fondly having either lived through some of the same things as the high schoolers in that film — or at the very least, having known people who did. “Everybody” lacks the same kind of universal appeal. By staying on the same characters for the entire film, Linklater has put all of his eggs in one very flimsy basket. The guys in this movie just aren’t very interesting and (as all-American athletes) are difficult for most of us to relate to.
Whereas “Dazed” featured a stellar cast with incredibly memorable characters, there are no standouts in “Everybody.” There’s no Wooderson, no Slater, no “Pink” Floyd here. Hell, there’s not even an O’Bannion. Not one of the stars of “Everybody” is particularly memorable, and there were no conversations here that are worth quoting. It’s almost as though “Everybody” was made in the style of a mumblecore movie (with a minimal script and a ton of improvisation) but with actors who lacked the skill and experience to make it interesting.
If not for its pedigree, this film wouldn’t have been noticed by anyone. It’s simply not worth your time.