The works of director Richard Linklater cover a wide range of genres and styles, but the through-line of his diverse output is a fascination with people: how they think, what motivates them, and the unpredictable ways that they change as the years roll on. His latest feature, the 1980s sex comedy throwback Everybody Wants Some!!, might appear to be a disposable romp, but it is consistent with his penchant for smuggling melancholic thoughtfulness into outwardly frivolous stories.
The new film centers on Jake (Blake Jenner), a high school baseball phenom arriving for his first year at (fictional) Southeast Texas University in the fall of 1980. The entirety of Everybody Wants Some!! takes place over roughly 72 hours as Jake adjusts to life in an off-campus house reserved for the school’s champion baseball team. In the three days before class begins, he quickly befriends his fellow athletes—a gaggle of bros who are cocky to a man, but sundry in personality and outlook—and generally tries to stay drunk and get laid. That’s as much plot as Linklater’s script allows, but as with its spiritual predecessor, Dazed and Confused, the film utilizes its high-spirited directionless to scratch through the surface of its characters and setting, revealing poignant truths about identity, tribalism, and time’s passage.
Make no mistake, however: Everybody Wants Some!! is a jubilantly funny film. Jenner is the “straight man” in this tale—Jake is bland but sweet and unexpectedly learned—so most of the laughs come courtesy of the sprawling ensemble. Glen Powell as erudite lothario Finn is the standout scene-stealer, but the entire cast is a delight, even when the characters are simply shooting the breeze in their crude, strutting way. In short, it’s vintage Linklater: heaps of gleefully adolescent humor with an undercurrent of reflective sentiment.
Everybody Wants Some!! opens Friday, April 8 at the Tivoli Theatre, 6350 Delmar.