By Blake Nelson
Richard Linklater proclaimed “Everybody Wants Some!!” a successor to both “Dazed and Confused” and “Boyhood,” something that immediately made me start sweating. Both of those films are arguably his most memorable and saying a thing like that would only draw more comparison. But alas, the past is the past and you can’t take something back from the past, a strange coincidence about a film that is set in (you guessed it) the past … but let’s get back on topic.
I would best compare this film to “Dazed and Confused” set in the ’80s, but this might mislead you. Although this film has Linklater’s signature meandering storytelling style, it seems that some of the introspective spirit of “Dazed and Confused” is missing. It is most likely the lack of originality in doing something very similar to “Dazed and Confused,” or maybe this film represents the ’80s less than “Dazed and Confused” represents the ’70s.
All over the internet this film is being heralded as an accurate representation of being a youth in the 1980s. Besides some famous songs of the time being played and the existence of no cellphones in the movie, this film could have been set in the present time period — but before every older reader screams out that I’m just millennial scum, let me defend this point.
What exactly happens in the film? Some college kids party, have sex and play baseball. So far, none of this is exclusive to the 80s. Even some of the more particular scenes that could be considered to be exclusive aren’t very ’80s; the disco scenes could have just been a club scene set in today’s time. Also, when the crew goes to a punk show seems very similar to the youthful punk shows that still occur to this day. Maybe there is less novelty in punk today than there was in the ’80s, but only a passing remark is made about the allure of being a punk in ’80s.
Beyond the inconsequential time period in which the film is set, this movie just seems to offer a Linklater-style film that follows some college students around. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing; sometimes I prefer the non-eventful style of Linklater’s directing, but this film doesn’t do it for me like some of Linklater’s other movies. In Linklater’s other films, when people aren’t doing things it is still interesting because some sort of commentary is being made. This film goes for that style, but ends up with some half-hearted commentary on winning and being a baseball player.
Even when the characters are doing things it’s just OK, the acting is fine, the dialogue is fine and the story arch is predictable. The film ends fairly well, right when the first class of the semester begins, but overall the film plays it safe and hardly makes a lasting impact on the viewer like “Dazed and Confused” or “Boyhood” might. In the end, in perfect millennial fashion, I was less disappointed by the film than I was indifferent about it.
Blake Nelson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @b_e_nelson.