Everybody Wants Some!! (2016)
Directed by Richard Linklater
In spirit, “Everybody Wants Some!!” (named after the Van Halen song) is the natural follow-up to writer-director Richard Linklater’s ‘70s-set high school comedy “Dazed and Confused.” But whereas “Dazed” had a blazed Matthew McConaughey spitting early philosophical wisdom, decades before he did it behind the wheel of a Lincoln, “Everybody Wants Some!!” doesn’t push its message of self-identity often enough or hard enough to stick. It’s cool with putting more focus on parties and girls. And while that’s entertaining as hell, it’s just not the same, man.
It’s move-in day for college freshman Jake (Blake Jenner), but the baseball house is not what he expected. As he tries to navigate his new college landscape over the long weekend before classes, Jake will meet a girl (Zoey Deutch) and learn his place among his teammates (like those played by Glen Powell, Tyler Hoechlin, Wyatt Russell, and J. Quinton Johnson) as they go to their first baseball practice, a few bars, and house parties of all sorts.
After the failed experiment of “Boyhood,” Richard Linklater had nowhere to go but up. Really. But he out-philosophized himself over the course of three “Before” movies (okay let’s be honest…just the first two). Now, he’s serving us leftovers. A guy stoned out of his mind talking about “society” doesn’t pass for depth here. And without much character development, “Everybody Wants Some!!” feels just as purposeless as its confused young main character. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy myself. For one, Linklater steals a page from Tarantino when it comes to his film’s totally pitch-perfect soundtrack. Call it “Awesome Mix Vol. 3.” From “My Sharona” to an incredible car-lip-sync rendition of “Rapper’s Delight,” your knee will keep bumping the whole of two hours. And not a single actor in this solid ensemble drops the ball. This bench has depth. Glen Powell, gut-bustingly hysterical on Fox’s “Scream Queens,” is once again hilariously brilliant here. Blake Jenner is on the shortlist for that Han Solo spinoff. I’m liking him for it. And Zoey Deutch, female lead in the year’s worst movie, “Dirty Grandpa,” finds redemption playing Jake’s theater nerd sweetheart. “Everybody Wants Some!!” is not a bad movie. Not at all, actually. It’s just not “Dazed and Confused.” I’m disappointed I ever thought it could be.