In 1993, writer and director Richard Linklater helped launch the careers of Ben Affleck and Matthew McConaughey with cult teen comedy Dazed & Confused. Now he is back in the same academic territory with what is being considered the ‘spiritual sequel’. Named after the Van Halen song, coming-of-age flick Everybody Wants Some!! follows freshman Jake (Blake Jenner) as he begins a baseball scholarship in Texas 1980. When he arrives at his new digs, he meets his many housemates including party animal Finnegan (Glen Powell), fun-loving Dale (J. Quinton Johnson) and hallucinogen hooligan Willoughby (Wyatt Russell), and is instantly initiated into their chaotic college culture.
Quite often with Linklater’s movies, there is a distinct shortage of plot. In his Before trilogy, he explored the blossoming of a romance through conversation and in Boyhood, the focus was more on the uniqueness and enormity of the filmmaking process rather than the story itself. This time around, the narrative moves along swimmingly from party to party as Jake prepares to start a new chapter in his life, but the problem lies in the lack of conflict. The production design and soundtrack combine nicely to establish a satisfying eighties feel but on the whole it just isn’t funny or clever enough to cope without a narrative structure. The romantic subplot is well judged, taking us away from the fratpack bromances, and Zoey Deutch is excellent in her portrayal of Jake’s love interest Beverly.
After the mammoth twelve year effort of his last project, I think Linklater is phoning in Everybody Wants Some!! and it suffers from this as a result. Although it is really good fun in places and features a few solid performances, there seems to be more investment in nostalgia than in telling a story. If Boyhood was an epic journey about the ups and downs of life, this is more of a pleasant day-trip seen through rose-tinted glasses, with no bumps in the road in sight.
See the trailer: