When moving on from a major success, it’s hard in any field to work out the best possible way to follow it up. Either move in the same direction and be derided as “safe”, or move away and alienate your main audience. Richard Linklater is no stranger to success (School Of Rock, the Before trilogy), however following on from Boyhood, a movie that took twelve years to film, the director now has a reputation to follow up on. Everybody Wants Some is the result, and it’s a refreshing return to his earlier style.
The movie is centered around Jake (played by Blake Jenner), a promising baseball pitcher who moves into a college fraternity populated by his new teammates. Set in 1980, the film then follows the weekend before their semester starts with all the associated ribaldry and debauchery of college; involving the pursuit of the opposite sex, copious consumption of a variety of substances, and the macho bravado of a team of jocks ready for another semester.
While it would of course be held up against its “spiritual precursor” Dazed and Confused, it’s a different movie in several ways. Sure, it’s a college movie, and while Dazed was a high school graduation film, they both have a very different approach. Everybody Wants Some is very much a frat style film (similar to Animal House, Revenge of the Nerds, Van Wilder), however, it has a far more nuanced approach to the style. The whole film follows the very naturalistic vibe that Linklater has come to be known for, alongside his characteristic witty dialogue and fluid narrative style.
What really sets this apart from other films of the same ilk are the characters. While other college films would reduce a fraternity of jocks into stereotypical stock fodder, Linklater instead has created a group of characters more rooted in reality. They have insecurities, hinted at throughout the film but never in a empathetic sense, but enough to let the viewer make up their own minds. While it doesn’t reach the same heights as Linklater’s better efforts, it’s still a pretty great film. At its best, it is a fun, fast-paced look at the simple pleasures of early adulthood, at its worst, it’s still a Linklater film, which isn’t so bad at all.