Richard Linklater returns to make a “spiritual” successor to the very popular cult hit “Dazed and Confused”. But does the nostalgia remain fresh, or faded by the bright light of the modern day?
In a sense of progression, this film is set within the 1980’s, as we follow college freshman Jake (Blake Jenner) and his first few days before classes begin. So, rather than being set over the course of 24 hours, it is set over a longer period of time. He meets up with his room mates and fellow baseball team, while getting a taste of the freedoms and craziness that only college life can bring. The movie’s clock is set upon the number of days left until classes begin, so their race is on to get as much in before the tedium of college reality sets in.
And really, that is as far as the storyline goes, it isn’t even a Coming-of-Age story but more of a transition from old to new. But what the movie relies upon to make up for the simplicity in the plot is the nostalgia factor of setting it within the 80’s, and the interactions between the characters.
The latter of these points is actually quite strong, and where most of the entertainment will be found. Being of it’s time, the team are all macho-minded, overly competitive Bros to the n-th degree, it is almost comical seeing a modern movie have characters portrayed like this. And yet despite their minds being set on only a few primary things (here’s a clue, one is Baseball, and one is not), you still kind of like them for being so outlandish and having such a strong comradery. Anyone who has been to college and lived the wild life will know exactly what this was like and connect with it, even if that is just on a few levels.
The nostalgia factor is a big play too, from the pretty fucking excellent soundtrack to the mad fashion, cheesy décor in the rooms and phrases that are used. Sure, some things they say are not looked upon well anymore and border on being offensive, but that is how the 80’s were. Deal with it. If a period piece was watered down to suit modern views it just wouldn’t feel genuine. Even though I am a 90’s kid, I still enjoyed the 80’s scene of the movie, and I think they did a very good job in bringing it to life.
This being primarily a comedy, it is worth talking about the humour for a bit. There were plenty of moment that got a laugh from me, and a few that had me shaking with the giggles. The writing may not be very consistent, but when it works, you’ll like it a lot. Larger extents tend to be devoted to drama as well as Baseball – especially the final act. And this does seem to hurt the tempo overall, where it had started off on a good pace. It is not going to go down as a comedy classic of this year, but there’s just enough here to keep you entertained.
Performance-wise, Linklater has once again brought together a large cast that seems to all work very well with each other. Their snide remarks and mannerisms bounce around the sets like a ping-pong ball in a very entertaining way. Which makes for even the remedial scenes where nothing’s really happening feel more fun. They just seemed to be having a very good time with the material they were given, whilst also bringing some simple, but honest performance to give their characters some substance.
Unfortunately though, the issue I raised earlier holds a lot of this good work back, and that being the lack of a story. “Dazed and Confused” didn’t have much of a plot either, but it was building towards the big party at the end, so you always knew where the path was leading. Here, your path feels very random and scatter-shot, just like the weekly plans of a college freshman in fact. So even though it works in that sense, it doesn’t work all that well for storytelling. This aspect is for sure going to piss off some audience members, but for others it might not be a big deal at all. As for how I felt… I was kind of on the fence about it. While some random scenes worked because of the cast members just shooting the shit in a fun way, others felt drawn out and unnecessarily dull. The nudity is kind of jarring too – don’t get me wrong, I had noooo problem with there being nudity. But it only really happens during one sequence and then is forgotten. Just felt weird having it be that way.
“Everybody Wants Some!!” is not as good as its big Daddy that it takes inspiration from. That is for certain at least. But at the same time, I found myself enjoying it more than some reviews were painting it to be. The quirky script work and entertaining performances make up for the neandering, lost sense to the story. Fans of the original will find stuff to quibble about with it, but I think they’ll all find enough to have fun with by the time the credits start to roll. Although what they’ll do for their 90’s-set instalment, I have no idea where they can go with that.
Thanks for reading!