Richard Linklater's Everybody Wants Some!! is being billed as a "spiritual sequel" to his breakout 1993 movie Dazed and Confused, and that makes sense. Both take place in a Texas of days-gone-by, and while none of the same characters show up, Jake, the lead character in Everybody is entering college about the same time Mitch from Dazed would have: 1980.
Jake, a baseball pitcher, (as was Mitch), arrives at the southern Texas college with a milk crate full of LPs, a sweet muscle car, and an ego that will immediately be squashed by his fellow teammates, who are also his roommates in the dilapidated house assigned to the baseball team. Their coach tells them that living there is a privilege, and two big rules need to be followed: No booze, and no girls upstairs.
Needless to say, they break those rules within the first four hours there.
The rest of the movie basically follows Jake and his teammates over the long weekend before the start of classes, as they get drunk, get stoned, get laid, and eventually play some practice ball. Much like Dazed and Confused, the majority of the cast are relative unknowns, at least if you never watch TV. Fans of Glee will probably recognize lead Blake Jenner, who appeared on the reality offshoot The Glee Project and plays Jake in Everybody. Glen Powell, who plays the thinly mustached, philosophical horndog Finnegan (and who steals many of the scenes he's in), was seen recently on Scream Queens. Tyler Hoechlin from Teen Wolf and 7th Heaven plays the thickly mustached ace hitter McReynolds, (and if he looks like he can actually play baseball, it's because he actually did play college ball). And if you've been watching The Walking Dead recently, you will immediately recognize Austin Amelio, though here he's slightly less menacing, and more prone to making bad bets than shooting people.
Linklater, who went to college on a baseball scholarship, is familiar with this world, and every bit of it feels authentic, if not autobiographical. The soundtrack is filled with that perfect blend of metal, disco, new wave, and punk that made 1980 such a magical moment in music. The guys — decked out in patterned polyester shirts — venture to discos, cowboy bars, and a punk concert, because getting laid is more important than blending in. When they eventually do hit the baseball field, (which doesn't actually happen until over halfway through the film), the clash of egos, followed by easy reconciliation, has a reality and lack of drama you'd need on a real team.
It's like a sex comedy you might have come out of in the 1980s thinking, "That was weirdly smart for a dumb teen movie," and it follows the path of many of Linklater's films, which is to just watch people as they wander, because it's at those times that some of the most profound things can happen.
If there's one issue I had with the movie it's that only one female character is allowed to develop past that of a mere sexual conquest for one of the guys. She's played by Zoey Deutch, (daughter of actress Lea Thompson and director Howard Deutch), and she gives a lovely performance as Beverly, the theater arts student Jake takes a liking to.
There are nude shots of a woman's boobs and ass that feel so gratuitous they almost border on parody, but not quite. It felt like Linklater had a chance to subvert the sexism of the genre, but just couldn't get there. But ultimately, that's a small complaint for a film I liked a lot, and hit all the right nostalgia buttons, while also offering a much deeper experience than one would expect from a movie centered on college bros.
Also opening this week: Is this the season for musical biopics? Because we've got two premiering this weekend: Born to Be Blue, starring Ethan Hawke as jazz trumpeter Chet Baker, and I Saw the Light, starring Tom Hiddleston as Hank Williams, which, sorry, is just wrong in so many ways, not the least of which is that he sounds nothing like Hank Williams.
But if you're a fan of the Hidddleman, he'll be making personal appearances at two screenings tonight: the 7 p.m. showing at the Clay and the 8 p.m. showing at the Century 9. Not sure how that's gonna work out time-wise, but that's what I was told!
Finally, the science fiction-tinged Midnight Special is getting a lot of buzz (and some Rotten Tomatoes love). It's the latest paring of director Jeff Nichols and actor Michael Shannon (they've teamed up previously for Take Shelter and Mud), and centers on a father and son who go on the lam when the government finds out about the son's freaky powers. Adam Driver also stars.