From the moment a college freshman on a baseball scholarship to a Texas state school in 1980 parks his Oldsmobile 442 outside the off-campus house he’ll be sharing with seven teammates, grabs his album collection and walks through the door to a new chapter in his life, “Everybody Wants Some!!” nails it.
From the split-personality music of the time, to the macho-bonding of man-boy jocks, to the mysteries and glories of slightly older women, to the unbridled sexual energy of the 19-year-old away from home for the first time, to many a college student’s obsession with alcohol and parties and embracing every moment of the college experience, Richard Linklater’s non-sequel of a sequel to “Dazed and Confused” has pitch-perfect tone.
It’s not as if “Everybody Wants Some!!” features any of the characters from Linklater’s cult classic, coming-of-age stoner comedy about the last day at a Texas high school in 1976. But this feels like a spiritual sequel, set in Texas just a few years later and featuring a large and likable ensemble cast of characters during a short but pivotal period in their lives.
“Everybody Wants Some!!” is a movie about college baseball players that features very little college and not all that much baseball. It covers the three-day weekend leading up to the first fall baseball scrimmage and the first day of classes — that time when returning students renew bonds after the long summer, and incoming freshman tentatively find their way as they meet friends and lovers they’ll never forget.
Think about it. If you went away to school, even 20 or 30 or 40 years ago, you might not remember what you did three weekends ago — but you most likely have intense and accurate memories of the first weekend of every year of your college experience. Linklater captures that beautifully.
Most of the story is experienced from the point of view of Jake (Blake Jenner in a winning performance), a confident but quiet freshman pitcher who’s smart enough to know that while he was the best player by far on his high school team, he’ll be lucky to make the starting rotation on the college squad.
Linklater peppers the soundtrack with period-piece tunes such as “My Sharona,” “Rapper’s Delight” and “Another One Bites the Dust,” and pays homage to 1980s R-rated comedies such as “Stripes” and “Porky’s” and even “Revenge of the Nerds,” as Jake and his teammates engage in three days and nights of partying, giving each other endless grief, philosophizing, engaging in a myriad of competitive contests with one another — and bonding off the field so they can compete on a national level ON the field by the time spring rolls around.
Glen Powell gives the best performance in the film as Finnegan, who as a senior is miles ahead of the incoming freshman players in every phase of the college off-field game. Finnegan’s a loquacious Lothario who dazzles the ladies with his silver tongue and well-practiced moves. At first we think he’s a jerk, but as the weekend rolls on, we come to believe he might be the smartest and most pragmatic one of the bunch.
Tyler Hoechlin, who looks like a young Billy Crudup, is another standout as McReynolds, perhaps the only member of the team with a genuine shot at making the majors.
(And oh, the mustaches and sideburns in this movie. It’s a contender for the Facial Hair Movie Hall of Fame.)
Linklater introduces us to an abundance of characters, but it’s a tribute to his writing (and the performances) that each of the baseball players has a distinct personality and story thread.
As for the women in “Everybody Wants Some,” they’re mostly seen through the eyes of the guys, which means they’re cute, smart, alluring creatures, and unfortunately that’s about as far as the character development goes.
That is, until we get to know Zoey Deutch’s Beverly, a performing arts major who catches Jake’s attention and introduces him to a whole other side of the campus. Even with all the kegstand drinking and sweat-soaked dancing and mad make-out sessions surrounding them, Jake and Beverly connect in a sweet romance that transcends a college hookup.
A movie made in 2016 about the 1980 college experience is as much as a time capsule as a movie made in 1986 about the 1950 college experience. This was a time when you had to use the communal telephone in your house to talk to a date, when you had to leave a written note for someone saying where you were going to be later that night. When you listened to vinyl on a turntable, and drove around campus in a packed car, because that’s how you’d find out what everyone else was doing.
In one weekend, the teammates in “Everybody Wants Some” find themselves at a disco, a country dance bar, a theater party and a punk-rock club. They learn to adapt to every situation — just as they have to learn to adapt on the field and work together to turn a double play or advance a runner or adjust to a new pitcher.
By the time they finally take the field for a hilarious yet authentic session of BP followed by a practice game, it feels as if we’ve been watching them play together for an entire season.
‘Everybody Wants Some’ 4 stars
Paramount Pictures presents a film written and directed by Richard Linklater. Running time: 117 minutes. Rated R (for language throughout, sexual content, drug use and some nudity.) Opens Friday at local theaters.