In 1993, Richard Linklater’s ‘Dazed and Confused’ was released to critical acclaim - and still holds a special place in many people’s hearts. One of those genre defining films, it offered a ‘funny, affectionate and clear-eyed look at high-school life’ – with Quentin Tarantino ranking it the 10th best film of all time in 2002. And even better than that, it reached #3 in Entertainment Weekly’s 50 Best High-School Movies. It’s an undisputed classic of the genre. In the years since, Linklater has made a wide range of films – the Oscar-nominated Boyhood and even a whole trilogy, the ‘Before’ films. But now, 23 years since Dazed, he’s going back to high-school.
Everybody Wants Some!!, marketed as a spiritual sequel to Dazed, is a nostalgic trip down memory lane – both a love letter to high-school and an era of life, but also an era of filmmaking. Here’s a film that could easily pass for a film of the 80s or 90s, and yet sits proudly with a 2016 release date. But is it actually any good?
Out now on DVD & Blu-ray, the film follows a group of high-school baseball players navigating their way through school, life and responsibility. It’s a pretty run-of-the-mill coming-of-age story in that regard, with very little by way of plot. In true Linklater fashion, the film’s narrative is almost non-existent. Linklater even considers the film to be a spiritual sequel to Boyhood too, which would account for this. Boyhood’s charming lack of narrative was perfectly representative of the mundanity of life – but here, it just feels empty.
The jock protagonists are largely obnoxious, more focused on partying and ‘getting laid’ than any sort of academic success – and yet they are the heroes. While shows like The Inbetweeners took this approach in a somewhat self-mocking way, here it’s delivered in a self-assured way. It’s an accurate portrayal of these types of people, sure – but for two hours, it is a little tiring. The lack of plot doesn’t help, as we spend the film’s duration just watching these guys prank each other and act like arseholes. Anyone who went to school or college with people like this would surely not want to spend another minute with them, so should probably avoid this film…
Still, the film’s soundtrack is the biggest pull factor. Linklater has always had an ear for music, and Everybody Wants Some is no exception. As the film’s narrative is deeply rooted in the 1980s; expect to hear Blondie, The Knack, Van Halen, Sniff n’ The Tears, ZZ Top, Brian Eno, Pink Floyd, Foreigner, Pete Townshend, Stiff Little Fingers, The Cars…and a whole lot more. It’s a very music heavy film, and with a strong soundtrack like this, you’ll hear no complaints from me in this area. Rock on, Linklater.
But on the whole, Everybody Wants Some feels like two hours of nostalgia – and nothing more. It’s almost as if Linklater, still reeling from Boyhood’s Oscar fail, decided to try and recapture his glory days. “Fuck being smart”, he probably thought. “Let’s go back to party films!”. And in a way, he succeeded. The film does feel like Dazed…Just nowhere near as good. And it seems like nobody had very much faith in the film, with Paramount giving the film such a tiny limited cinema release, that it didn’t even earn half of its $10 million budget back. Ouch.
So in conclusion, is Everybody Wants Some worth your time? Not really. It had its positives – the largely unknown cast are pretty good at playing dicks, and some of the directing is okay. But the lack of structure and obnoxious characters just make the film feel like a chore. If you’re a Linklater completist, come along and stay for the soundtrack. If you’re into drunken party films, you might enjoy it. But if you want something highbrow or are expecting something as deep as Boyhood, you’re in the wrong place. Maybe you will want some, maybe you will not. 2/5
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