The master of getting across what it’s like to be young and aimless on the big screen goes back to college in this spiritual follow-up to his stellar modern classic Dazed and Confused. Linklater and Everybody Wants Some!! drops us at the door of a frat house with a rookie baseball player (Blake Jenner); A jock with a heart and soul. We’re quickly introduced to the young men, navigating their way through women, beer, drugs, music and ego competition in 1980s Texas but, as simplistic as it might sound, Linklater’s mind goes deeper than the Animal House antics we’ve come to expect from frat boy films.
What is really impressive in the “nothing really happens” kind of way is how much the director makes us like these louts; Jenner’s Jake is soulful, tripping between the different worlds of university, always with something to offer by way of Linklater’s ear for crackling dialogue. Although Everybody Wants Some!! is primarily about dumb boys chasing smart girls in the four days before the start of term there is a charming sweetness and levity to it all; The jocks included. We’re not going for drilling holes in the wall of the girls locker room here, we’re interested, like Linklater in his best films, in how people find their way and their place in the world through friends.
The music, the fashion and the cars are pitch perfect, the relatively unknown cast are refreshing and unique and the tone of the fun is spot on. It’s perceptive without being preachy or overtly philosophical, rambling along with enough guts to know when tropes work; A Rappers Delight car sing-a-long is a gleeful highlight and even when we’re on the baseball field the initiation tactics of the gang never really get too gross-out or abrasive. Maybe the films breezy nature might turn off some audiences; The lack of superficial action might even bug some younger viewers but for those of us who have grown up uttering “Alright, alright, alright…” it’s a beautiful searching return to school for Linklater.