From the time it was first announced to recent Richard Linklater interviews, the beat on Everybody Wants Some!! is that it is the “spiritual sequel” to the early-‘90s Gen X hit, Dazed and Confused. While Dazed hosts a large ensemble filled with both boys and girls going through the growing pains of moving from middle school ‘big kids’ to high school peons, juniors becoming the senior kings and queens, Everybody Wants Some!! is a smaller tale of what happens when one of the ‘cool’ rising freshman dudes eventually ships off to college in 1980 and becomes a peon all over again with his assigned group of buds, his college baseball team.
If viewed through the warm lens most people have for Dazed and Confused, Everybody Wants Some!! can feel slow and exclusive. We’re pretty much only seeing the world as the jocks view it; life is what you do to kill time between games and practice. Linklater nails this empty time in a significant way, which is less about growing out of high school and into college, and more about the separate journey college athletes experience. It’s not a “spiritual sequel” to Dazed as much as it is a spiritual prequel to another Gen X favorite, Major League.
Jake -- our surrogate ‘aw, shucks’ freshman Mitch from Dazed played by Blake Jenner -- walks into his assigned team house and barely has time to drop his crate of vinyl before being harassed by senior studs for being a pitcher, is pulled into a discussion about sex on a waterbed and handed a copy of Carl Sagan’s Cosmos. It might be a group of aspiring major leaguers, playboys, hippies, hicks and weirdos, but it’s Jake’s group of aspiring major leaguers, playboys, hippies, hicks and weirdos and he needs to find out where his second team all-state pitching arm fits in with the rest of them without upsetting the balance of what is considered one of the best college baseball teams in the country. The team only functions at high level if their pack can find peace and camaraderie with each other, even if individually they’re competing against each other along the way. Girls, ping pong, drinking, and a cringeworthy game of knuckles; no one wants to lose and each incoming freshman again has to prove they can handle whatever cruel punishments are going to be thrown their way.
This is where Everybody Wants Some!! sings. Jake might have been the hot ace in high school, but now he has to find peace with the team’s captain, Glen McReynolds (Tyler Hoechlin), who you can easily imagine as Keith Hernandez partying (and winning) with the 1980s Mets. Jenner and Hoechlin nail the power dynamic between great hitters and pitchers having to share the same field. It’s a chess match and sometimes you have to know when to surrender your queen. There are fights over dominance, there are awkward apologies, there are single butt pats that mean “I’m sorry” with nods that reply “We’re cool.”
Sports might have been the unifying background for some of the kings in Dazed, but in Everybody Wants Some!! they’re just some dudes still playing ball longer than most people. And while they might rule (in their minds) the campus now, there are enough glimmers of the outside world, that for most of them, this perfect moment in time isn’t going to last forever, so make it count.
The fun thing about great sports movies like Everybody Wants Some!! is they make great double bills with other movies about building a team, because not every group goes through the same journey in becoming a unit. The team is always more fun to be around, busting each others chops in a loving way that only people you deeply trust can get away with as everybody wants the same thing, to win.
So, what should you watch in your Everybody Wants Some!! afterglow? Some suggestions below: