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Reviews: (Almost) Everybody Loves Richard Linklater’s ‘Everybody Wants Some!!’

Reviews: (Almost) Everybody Loves Richard Linklater's 'Everybody Wants Some!!'

Richard Linklater’s “Everybody Wants Some!!” doesn’t have any overt connections to “Dazed and Confused,” but Linklater has long billed as a “spiritual sequel,” a phrase critics got a chance to unpack when the film premiered at South by Southwest on Saturday. What that means is that although “Everybody Wants Some!!” — don’t forget the exclamation points! — doesn’t share characters or a setting with Linklater’s 1993 cult classic, but it’s also a loosely structured ensemble piece that cuts across social cliques and mixes stoned philosophizing with coming-of-age incidents. The difference is this time is that it’s more securely anchored by a particular group of testosterone-addled college baseball players, which for some critics throws off the delicate balance: One suggests it might also be called “Brohood.” But for the most part, the reviews are swooning, and build plenty of anticipation for the movie’s April 1 release.

John Defore, Hollywood Reporter

This deft and lovely new film discards the first’s omniscient point-of-view, which sympathized with freaks and geeks and the in-crowd simultaneously, in favor of a very specific perspective: watching an incoming freshman spend his first few days with the college baseball players who’ll constitute his family for the rest of the year. More a hang-out movie than a yukfest, the film doesn’t try to be all things to all people (its title notwithstanding) and will leave many “Boyhood” admirers, and even some in the “D&C” cult, puzzled. But it’s as honest and clear-eyed about the past as its predecessor, another in a filmography of unpredictable gems. It may be most like “Dazed” in that the public could take a while to appreciate it for what it is.

Eric Kohn, Indiewire

As Willoughby singles out music that finds “tangents within the framework,” so too does Linklater establish a pattern of easygoing behavior that finds its way to bigger ideas. In the midst of a heated pool game, several beers deep, Nesbit considers the value in “being who you are, not what they want — that’s when it gets fun.” Such vague jabs at conformist society epitomize the reckless youth of many Linklater movies, including the ones in which older characters look back. But none of them crop up here, which gives “Everybody Wants Some!!” the aura of an R-rated “Peanuts” cartoon. Simple and profound in equal doses, it’s a poignant doodle from the master of tossed-off reflection.

Justin Chang, Variety

A master of the modern hangout movie achieves his most sustained comic bliss-out in years with “Everybody Wants Some!!” Billed quite accurately as a “spiritual sequel” to 1993’s “Dazed and Confused,” Richard Linklater’s latest acutely funny, achingly perceptive retro-sociology lesson follows a team of ’80s college baseball players wasting a longish weekend together before the start of a new school year; many scenes of pot smoking, disco dancing, knuckle flicking, skirt chasing and other forms of competitive male sport (and some baseball here and there) predictably and hilariously ensue. Linklater indulges his characters’ antics with such wild, free-flowing affection that you might miss the thoughtful undertow of this delightful movie: Few filmmakers have so fully embraced the bittersweet joy of living in the moment — one that’s all the more glorious because it fades so soon.

David Jenkins, Little White Lies

Linklater explored questions of human evolution in his previous feature, “Boyhood,” and does so again here, albeit in a more abstract manner. And though evoking Kubrick might dent the film’s empathy credentials, it should be said that this is a shimmering model of humane filmmaking. This is also a film that confounds expectation, brilliantly challenging the cliché that scholarly life is governed by a rigid cultural caste system. Indeed, it practices what it preaches, showing how easy it is for punks to mix with jocks, jocks with thesps, freshmen with seniors, and everyone with a self-important, goggle-eyed dingus named Jay Niles (Juston Street). Life, it seems, is one big circle-pit of nostalgic bonhomie. Political antagonism is just a state of mind. This film is a flower in the gun barrel of conservative bigotry and arrogance. It’s about the simple joy of making connections.

Perri Nemiroff, Collider

“Everybody Wants Some” isn’t about something in the traditional sense. It isn’t your standard screenplay with a clearcut beginning, middle and end. It’s an opportunity to escape, live in this world for two hours and have some fun, but the experience also comes with a very important message that’ll hit home for everyone. It celebrates the individual and embracing what you love, whether it’s winning, getting laid or playing baseball. When folks started calling “Everybody Wants Some” a “spiritual sequel” to “Dazed and Confused,” I didn’t quite know what to make of it and found the classification a little silly and unnecessary, but now having seen the movie, I get it. It really is all about doing the best you can wherever you are and just “l-i-v-i-n” in the moment, because who knows where you’ll wind up?

Jason Bailey, Flavorwire

There are no big revelations or dramatic arcs — in fact, as with Linklater’s “Boyhood,” there are occasionally scenes where you realize you’re bracing for big turns he isn’t going to take. It’s just a bunch of guys, drinking, girl-watching, shooting the shit, busting balls, yet forming bonds and testing boundaries and starting to figure out who they are, and you’re there, and this is what college felt like to him.

Charlie Schmidlin, The Playlist

The strength of Linklater’s films has always been their ability to capture the textures of lived experience, and “Everybody Wants Some!!” is no different in that regard: it is a confident, hugely enjoyable return to a universe that treats the connection to “Dazed and Confused” not as an obligation or cash grab, but as inspiration to match that film’s level of energy and chemistry. Proper distance will prove its cultural staying power, while its cast becomes a new class of acting talent, but for now, it seems best just to soak in this worthy two-hour haze of fleeting, fondly remembered college experiences.

Matt Singer, ScreenCrush

Like a lot of Linklater’s movies, “Everybody Wants Some” is so low-key it’s easy to dismiss it as nothing more than a bunch of dudes hanging out and cracking jokes. The drama is so muted, you don’t realize how brilliantly Linklater (who also wrote the film’s screenplay) builds stories and subplots until they’re already coming to a head at the team’s first voluntary practice. The drunken parties and hookups might seem frivolous, but the film is about how those first few days at college are actually way more important than anything taught in any class. It’s in those early, seemingly aimless days, when everything happens. That’s when you find out who you really are.

David D’Arcy, Screen Daily

The testosterone level is high as college athletes compete for conquests, and non-stop frat boy obscenities can make it feel more like “Goodfellas” than “Field of Dreams.” Yet Linklater has captured the voices of youths who have ridden a sport into a university. His rebound from “Boyhood “recreates a time and place before political correctness had a name. Unlike the transgressive “Dazed and Confused,” which seemed determined to outdo “Fast Times at Ridgemont High,” “Everybody Wants Some!!” has the spirit of “Animal House” in Texas. 

Nigel Smith, Guardian

Following his defining opus “Boyhood,” Linklater has cut loose to deliver his most purely pleasurable effort since 1993’s “Dazed and Confused.” Fittingly, he’s billed his latest as a “spiritual sequel” to that classic high school comedy. Watching “Everybody Wants Some!!,” it’s clear why. If the lads were insufferable misogynistic pricks, “Everybody Wants Some!!” would make for horrible viewing. Thankfully they’re all intensely lovable. Jake makes for a bit of bland protagonist, but he’s nicely balanced out by his outlandish teammates, each so clearly defined by Linklater’s subtly incisive screenplay.

Bryan Bishop, Verge

What’s most peculiar about it is that it’s a problem that feels relatively new in Linklater’s work. “Dazed and Confused” had its share of alpha jocks cruising for girls, of course, but that film also featured a rich diversity of points of view: geeks, stoners, dweebs, good kids looking to be bad, bad kids looking to be good, and every other variant of the high school social strata you could imagine. Everyone was given focus, and the result was a movie that felt rich, sincere, and universal. “Everybody Wants Some!!,” on the other hand, feels limiting — like you’re stuck at a frat party without a ride after everybody’s gotten too drunk.

Michael Roffman, Consequence of Sound

A lack of inclusivity plagues and stunts the loose narrative of “Everybody Wants Some.” Try to imagine spending three days with the biggest assholes across the quad, the intolerable band of misfits who are loud, obnoxious, and unaware. They’re walking Van Halen songs, living out this intoxicating life of teenage dreams that was scribbled out from reading way too many issues of Playboy magazine while growing up. Granted, none of this would be such an issue if Linklater weren’t so beholden to this rickety house of semen-pulsing muscle. Rather than expand the scope and involve a rogues gallery of corollary characters — such as Zoey Deutch’s Beverly, who becomes a beacon of light 60% of the way through the film — we’re stuck with a group of guys who drink, duel, and dance. A lot of it’s funny — for instance, any scenes involving Powell’s admittedly charming Finnegan or Hoechlin’s testy McReynolds — but hanging out with these guys eventually becomes a chore.

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