Richard Linklater heads back to the past with the delightful ‘Everybody Wants Some!!’

Everybody Wants Some
Mike D'Angelo

Four stars

Everybody Wants Some!! Blake Jenner, Zoey Deutch, Ryan Guzman. Directed by Richard Linklater. Rated R. Opens Friday at Regal Downtown Summerlin.

Richard Linklater has described his latest film, Everybody Wants Some!!, as a “spiritual sequel” to his 1993 classic Dazed and Confused. That’s a classy-sounding way of saying “I wanted to make another movie along the same lines, but I’d rather not be accused of coasting on past success.” He needn’t have worried. Set in 1980, four years after Dazed, the new movie features an entirely new cast of characters—it had to, really, given that the original actors are two decades older (plus, three of them have since won Oscars, and are much more expensive than they used to be)—but it does capture the same raucous-yet-affectionate spirit.

It also has roughly the same amount of plot: barely any. Mostly, the film observes the testosterone-fueled rivalries, competitions and hazing among a college baseball team in Texas, as they welcome their new freshman pitcher, Jake (Blake Jenner, previously seen in a radically different context on Glee). It’s August, so the school year hasn’t started yet; there’s ample time for getting high, arguing about bands and (most crucially) cruising for chicks. At the same time, though, everyone here seems to be jockeying for position in a way that suggests deeply rooted anxiety about their future—just one of the many ways in which Everybody Wants Some!! echoes Dazed and Confused without repeating any elements more specific than youth, freedom and nostalgia.

For those who were around at the time—and perhaps even for those who weren’t—seeing how expertly Linklater re-creates the Reagan era’s first blush is an endless source of fascination and amusement. But the period trappings never overwhelm the film’s vivid characters, who somehow manage to be intensely lovable even as they exemplify many of the male gender’s most annoying traits. Just when Everybody Wants Some!! threatens to go into broverload, it deftly shifts focus to a female drama student (Zoey Deutch, daughter of Lea Thompson and director Howard Deutch) with a decidedly different perspective on life. It’s as if Linklater’s Boyhood had abruptly metamorphosed into Girlhood, and further evidence that few American filmmakers are able to look back on their younger selves with such warm-hearted insight.

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