The brilliant Richard Linklater’s Everybody Wants Some!! (Yes, two requisite exclamation points!!), his so-called “spiritual sequel” to the iconic Dazed & Confused is, of course, beer-chugging and bong-ripping fun, but it is also warmer, kinder, and more contemplative and genuinely deep than it needs to be. The story of the ins-and-outs of an early-1980s college baseball team’s first weekend of the school year works as both true realism and heightened fun and rightly delivers on both counts. Is it a grand slam? Not quite. But, it’s definitely a gap double that Linklater stretches into an exciting tag-beater at third. Like its filmic forerunner it can be watched repeatedly.
We meet the team through the eyes of Blake Jenner’s freshman pitcher Jake. Pitchers take a few shots as idiosyncratic weirdos throughout the picture, an insight to which Linklater is obviously aware. He gets the little moments right. The guys wander through sports pubs, discos, honky-tonks, punk bars, sorority parties, and drama-club masquerades, none of them quite comfortable in their skin, but all of them ready to discover who’ll they’ll be as men. Wyatt Russell is great as a bearded, hippie pitcher that’s just transferred from California to mentor the guys; and, again this year, Zoey Duetch is a sparkly, lovely star.
Sure, there is some dime-store philosophizing—some of weakest in Linklaters oeuvre—but this world is lived-in and these characters and situations seem real even if, at times, they can be a bit outlandish. That’s what we want from art, especially literary narratives: authenticity. And Linklater has been one of the best at accomplishing this in the art of movie-making.