August, 1980. Baseball pitcher Jake (Blake Jenner) arrives at his Texan college and spends the few days before classes begin bonding with his new teammates.
There are only two rules for the college baseball players in Richard Linklater’s “spiritual sequel” to Dazed And Confused. One: no alcohol in their houses. Two: no girls in the upstairs bedrooms. It doesn’t take long for both to be broken. And broken in style.
Amid all the testosterone-fuelled bluster are sweetly funny moments where the film finds its heart.
Starting three days and 15 hours before class starts (as a handy onscreen subtitle tells us) at the fictional Southeast Texas State college, Everybody Wants Some!! (named after a Van Halen song, including the double exclamation marks) follows freshman Jake (Jenner) as he moves into the team houses, meets his teammates and attempts to settle into college life.
And the best way to do this? Before he can even unpack, three of the returning players take him and another freshman out drinking. It’s time for some good ol’ male bonding. His introduction to his team and housemates serves as ours and it’s handled expertly — no-one fades into the ensemble. Finn (Glen Powell) is a charismatic ladies’ man, Willoughby (Wyatt Russell) is a laidback stoner, Brumley (Tanner Kalina) is an enthusiastic but slightly dim freshman. We’ll leave it at three, but could easily continue.
After this first drinking session, not much changes — the group go out to the local disco, host a raucous house party, then spend the next day hanging around until it’s time to go out again. As with its (spiritual) predecessor, intricate plotting isn’t high on Linklater’s agenda. Instead the film focuses on the characters and camaraderie within the group as everyone jostles for position. Although that hierarchy is ever-changing, as Finn points out to Jake after he’s been the victim of one particular prank: “We all take turns being chumps around here. You accept your chumpification, you wear it well and you pass it on.”
Where this deviates from the Dazed And Confused formula is with the gender make-up of the group Linklater chooses to focus on: 12 characters, all guys. The women in the film are peripheral — potential conquests who either respond to the group’s advances, or put them solidly in their place. It’s not that they’re portrayed poorly, just that it’s not their story. The one we do spend extended time with is Beverly (Zoey Deutch), Jake’s love interest, but only when the two of them are together.
To criticise this purely based on its male-to-female ratio would be akin to complaining Sex And The City spent too much time with the women and not enough episodes trying to see everything from Aidan’s perspective, but it does affect the tone — you’re effectively hanging out with 12 college-aged guys for two hours. On the surface, this could sound like a turn-off, but amid all the testosterone-fuelled bluster and (often misplaced) bravado are sweetly funny moments where the film finds its heart. And by the time the first class of the year starts and the credits roll, you’ll wish your time with them hadn’t been so fleeting.
A perfectly pitched blast of nostalgia, which will transport you to that time in life when the future stretched before you and anything seemed possible.