Richard Linklater is of the philosophy that life isn’t planned out or a sequence of fates colliding, and bad luck giving us misery. For him, life is a series of random events, major and minute that result in pure happiness or pure sadness. “Everybody Wants Some!!” is every bit the drama and comedy masterpiece that its predecessor “Dazed and Confused” was. Not only is it an amazing companion piece to his nineties comedy, but it’s also an examination at the turbulence of youth and how being young has a lot of surprising structure and pressures behind it that can often be so much worse than adults.
Its 1980, Texas, and three days before college. Freshman Jake arrives in his new dorm, preparing to share a house with a group of very rowdy guys. Like them, Jake is a baseball player intent on proving himself on the team. Before the school year begins, and daily practices start in an effort to mold the school’s only winning sports team, Jake is taken along with his team on a three day journey of parties, drinking, and beautiful women. Linklater, much like he did in “Dazed and Confused” follows around a group of young people as they navigate through life and use music and humor to connect with one another and find kindred spirits. Music is the life blood of Linklater’s movies.
If there is such a thing as a soul, music is as close as it gets to Linklater conveying what a soul is, and how crucial music can be to igniting it. Rather than focus on a group of teens at the beginning of the summer, Linklater now follows a group of young adults in their final days of the summer, before they have to accept adult responsibility and give up the carefree days of their teens. The future isn’t as bleak as it was in the finale of “Dazed of Confused,” but the film does act as a requiem to immaturity and just being young, before it all fades away in to careers, obligations, and old age. “Everybody Wants Some!!” is a subtle look at enjoying youth and bidding it a fond farewell, all set to a very random and chaotic comedy that unfolds in to one excellent piece of cinema.
Linklater doesn’t commit to plot twists, cheap deaths, goofy romance, or melodrama, and instead zeroes in on drawing a slew of truly engaging characters, all of whom are blind to race and class, and find a means of bonding three days before school. Like everyone in a Linklater film, they use music to keep each other at eye level, and Linklater celebrates the magic of music. Not only does the film have an incredible soundtrack, but the characters live and breath through whatever music is on in the background, from singing along to “Rapper’s Delight” in a crowded car (a scene that rivals the “Bohemian Rhapsody” scene in “Wayne’s World,” easily), to the group of baseball players seducing young women at a local club with disco music and pop.
Though many will argue that “Everybody Wants Some!!” has no narrative, Linklater’s wizardry is in the seemingly random events that devise bits and chunks of plot, narrative and themes about male bonding, competition, and the thrills summer can offer to anyone open to a new adventure. Like Linklater’s previous films, “Everybody Wants Some!!” is simple, and down to Earth in scope and vision, but brings with it an incredible series of rich and complex characters, wonderful conflict, and yet another bang up soundtrack. I really hope Linklater offers up another follow up to “Dazed and Confused,” completing an unofficial trilogy. Linklater is a mastermind of storytelling who understands youth, nostalgia, as well as seeing the world through a filter where music is the universal language.