You might have blinked and missed “Everybody Wants Some!!” — the latest from Richard Linklater and the “spiritual sequel” to his beloved 1993 comedy “Dazed and Confused.” The earlier film, a deserving classic among high school movies, followed kids around on their last day of high school in the late 1970s; this film follows a different cast of characters around on their first weekend of college in 1980.
Punctuation is the only excess in this casually paced film, which is marked by Linklater’s sustained, delicate, rambling style. His signature is a gently flowing narrative river that is somehow never boring, through films as disparate as “Boyhood,” the “Before Sunrise” trilogy and “Waking Life.” His films are basically just people walking around places having conversations, and “Everybody Wants Some!!” is another film that is about nothing and everything.
As summer ends and college looms, this is the perfect time of year to spend a few days with Linklater’s characters. Chronology and time, for Linklater, are essential. Sequels and trilogies aren’t just the format of these films — they inform the way he explores time passing. “Everybody Wants Some!!” features an onscreen countdown clock to the first day of class, creating the semblance of suspense where there is none. The film might be anticipating the next step, but the characters don’t seem to be.
“Everybody Wants Some!!” is the lighter side of Linklater’s various meditations on time, but no less skillfully drawn and vastly entertaining. The plot, such as it is, centers around college freshman Jake, a tall, handsome baseball player on his first weekend in college, where he endures some good-natured hazing from his teammates in the ramshackle house they all share.
As Jake and his new friends drive from party to party, their personalities slowly emerge. It’s realistic in that, at first, you can hardly tell one guy from another; it’s as overwhelming as meeting a group of new people in real life. There is a country bumpkin, a hippie, a big-brother type and a cock of the walk, and they are unified in their relentless pursuit of girls and beer, both of which they are amusingly forbidden from having in their house by one of the film’s few adults.
From disco scene to country bar to punk show to a theater department soiree, the boys leave no stone unturned in their pursuit of female companionship, and the film seems to relish the purely physical state in which they live. There is batting practice, constant one-upmanship from thumping battles to ping pong to slicing a baseball in half with an ax wielded like a bat, and more dancing than you usually see in a nonmusical.
“Everybody Wants Some!!” is a hilarious slice of life, a meandering journey to nowhere much, packed with great dialogue and memorable characters. Like “Dazed and Confused” it captures a feeling, a mood, that is uncanny and deeply satisfying. It scratches the same nostalgic itch and, as the kind of film that should inspire repeated viewing, may yet be destined for cult status. It’s a great ride, and getting there is more than half the fun.
“Everybody Wants Some!!” is currently available to rent.