27 Jul 2016

Everybody Wants Some!! is no Dazed and Confused

10:25 am on 27 July 2016

Unfortunately, Everybody Wants Some!! fails to achieve the effortlessness of its predecessor, writes Mandy Te.

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Photo: NZ International Film Festival

Before Everybody Wants Some!! was released, it had been touted as the “spiritual sequel” to Dazed and Confused - a film that, to this day, feels effortlessly cool. But that’s something that can be hard to capture, especially when everyone expects you to nail it the second time around. So while Richard Linklater’s latest film doesn’t quite have that same ease as its predecessor did, Everybody Wants Some!! still encapsulates the same type of rosy retrospection.

Both of Linklater’s films fall under the coming-of-age genre, but they’re also periodic pieces. Dazed and Confused follows a group of teenagers on their last day of high school in 1976, while Everybody Wants Some!! focuses on university baseball players in 1980 who are days away from their first week of classes. Even for people who were born much later, the music, outfits, and settings amplify those feelings of nostalgia; the film is ironically timeless, forming connections with younger audience members through its pleasantly surprising relatability.

Everybody Wants Some!! follows a first-year baseball player, Jake Bradford (Blake Jenner), as he settles into his newfound freedom. Moving into a house with his fellow team members - some friendly, some not-so-friendly, and some who are a little peculiar - Jake, alongside the other freshers, find themselves at the bottom of the pecking order. They are simultaneously included in the group’s activities and hazed for their newbie status. However, the hazing seems to do very little to impact on the excitement of their new experiences and surroundings.

The team’s days are spent lazing around, drinking, getting ready for the night’s festivities, and driving around. In sleazy guy fashion, some of the team members go cruising through the campus in the hopes of chatting up some of the female students. Unfortunately for Kenny Roper (Ryan Guzman) and Finnegan (Glen Powell), who are two of the older team members, their attempts fall very, very short. However, this ends up working in Jake’s favour; he catches the eye of Beverly (Zoey Deutch) and in a youthful fashion, writes down her room number.

As the boys’ time unravels into days of playing games, going out to nightclubs, and more drinking, Jake finds himself becoming exposed to each member’s personality. Throughout it all, bonds are made and strengthened through a strong sense of camaraderie and banter, as the baseball team stick closely together.

Admittedly, when I first saw the trailer for Everybody Wants Some!!, I thought it was a little contrived. There’s a natural need to compare it to Dazed and Confused, a film that didn’t carry that weight of necessarily having to get it right on the first go. But what Dazed and Confused has, which Everybody Wants Some!! doesn’t seem to quite fully achieve, is that aforementioned effortlessness. Some shots seemed to waver too long, almost creating a stiltedness that pulls us out from the moment of make-believe; it’s on a teeter, but luckily it never quite makes it to a full halt. The dialogue, at times, was expectedly crude, and while the film does primarily focus on the all-male baseball team, it also became a little exhausting to mostly hear them talk.

But despite the need for some of them to be seen as macho, it’s easy to feel a sense of endearment towards most of the film’s cast. Personally, I could see a lot of people I had met during my own first two years at university in those very same characters. The boyish charm that a lot of my friends possess, the jokes made at each other’s expense, the eye-roll inducing comments, and the go-with-the-flow ease that a lot of people have in Orientation week - it’s all applicable. It’s Linklater’s effective technique of timelessness coming into play.

As the tagline suggests, you’re at university for a good time, not a long time. However, there’s magic to that transiency. And that’s magic which resonates with audiences through Linklater’s effective execution and warm cultivation of this film.

Everybody Wants Some!! is currently screening at the NZ International Film Festival.