I wrote out an entire review of this movie hating on its lack of plot, lack of character development, and lack of all around goodness.
But… I deleted it all and started over. Why? Because I finally got it. It finally made sense. Sure it took me 1000 words and three days, but I finally understood. I started having trouble justifying the bad things I had to say about it because one little thing kept popping up in my head: the optimism of youth.
I decided that I had to quit looking at it as a sequel to Dazed and Confused. I had to look deeper. Which, in all honesty, was pretty difficult to do. I still have some issues with the film, but now that I actually get it, I can easily get past them.
What kind of issues? Well… there’s the plot (or lack thereof). It’s hard to find any sort of story in this movie. There are maybe three parts of the film that actually fit in with the rest of it. Most of the scenes are just standalone stories that are mashed together to get you from A to B. It doesn’t make it hard to follow. It just kind of makes it a drag to follow.
But isn’t that life? Isn’t that how things end up going? Does every part of the story you call life have to mold perfectly together to form a rising action, climax, and falling action?
Think back to your first days at college. What parts of it do you remember? Do they form a comprehensive story, or do you just remember little bits and pieces of good times and bad?
That’s what Everybody Wants Some!! does. It doesn’t try to be something it’s not. It’s a nostalgic look at the first few days of Jake’s college career. The people, the interactions, the ridiculousness. The film takes place over the course of three days. Not a lot can happen in three days, and the film reflects that. It takes little bits of that time and puts it together to form a story like you’d remember.
The timeframe that the movie takes place in also plays a role in character development. At first, I was very dissatisfied about the characters in the film. If you jumped in halfway through, you wouldn’t even be able to tell that Jake was the main character. Each one has their own little tiny cycles in each scene that are immediately forgotten the next time they come around in the story.
But how could you get to know someone in three days? These are college kids. They don’t even know who they are. Well, some of them, like the seniors and juniors, have a relative idea of who they’re going to be, but a lot of the freshmen and sophomores are barely adults. They’re still trying to figure it out. Which is a hard thing to do at that age, especially in the company of such strong personalities like Willoughby and Jay, the two seniors that have been brought on to the team to help bolster the roster.
You think you know someone, and then five seconds later, they’ve changed. Or, in the case of Willoughby, they’re just gone for good. They just drop off the face of the earth and you never see or think about them again. I think we can all relate to that.
There’s so much more about this movie to love. The soundtrack, of course, is awesome. There was a lot going on musically at the end of the ’70s. Hip-hop was starting to break into the mainstream, disco was dying (thank God), and rock and roll was focusing on glitz and glam, taking the old mantra “sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll” to the extreme.
Everybody Wants Some!! doesn’t just focus on one of these areas like Dazed and Confused did with its rock ‘n’ roll-centric soundtrack. It takes the tumult that was music in 1980 and embraces it. Everybody’s listening to everything, and just enjoying it because it’s good. There are still the old holdouts, though, as Willoughby’s rant on Van Halen illustrates, but the movie embraces the music in all its glory, good or bad.
Another great thing I was really glad to see is that Richard Linklater is still keeping true to his Texas roots. One of the best things about Dazed and Confused is the setting. Late 1970s Austin was probably a pretty cool place to be for a high school kid. So where’s the next logical place to go after Austin? How about 30 miles south to San Marcos. Although the movie takes place at the fictional ‘Southeast Texas State University,’ you can easily tell it’s supposed to be Texas State (then Southwest Texas State University). (This could also take place in Huntsville, Texas. Linklater went there in 1980.)
The whole film screams Texas. From the river tubing scenes and crazy house parties out in the middle of nowhere to the characters, it made me feel like I was 18 again, even if I didn’t grow up in 1980. I actually went to a house party like the one in the end of the film once. A huge house with nothing in it but drugs and booze, 50 feet away from a river that everyone ended up in by the end of the night.
And that’s what this movie is all about: nostalgia. It’s not there to be a comprehensive story about the rise and fall of a great college baseball player. There’s no disaster or major catastrophe that occurs to bring all the kids off of their high.
This movie is there to remind you how much fun it was being 18 and getting ready to go to college. That was the problem with my original review, I think. I wasn’t approaching Everybody Wants Some!! in the right frame of mind. I was looking at it as a movie, as a spiritual successor to Dazed and Confused (which still had more plot and character development, but I digress).
But it’s not that at all. It’s about looking back and feeling good, about remembering little bits, not the whole piece. It’s about the optimism of youth and thinking that everything is going to go your way. So if or when you decide to watch this movie, don’t go in expecting the same old college bro comedy. Just enjoy it for what it is, and remember all the fun you had.
Reed’s Review Corner
Everybody Wants Some!!
8.3 split-in-half baseballs out of 10.
It makes you think about the past (and feel good about it).
The soundtrack was bomb.
A fresh look at the college comedy.
Little to no story.
Lack of character development left me wanting more.