Richard Linklater is uniquely qualified to make a film like EVERYBODY WANTS SOME!! By that, I mean he’s the fairly rare filmmaker who was a certifiable jock–both the quarterback and star pitcher for high school teams in Houston and Huntsville, Texas. A baseball scholarship helped pay for college.
That perspective informs the athletes of his most famous film, DAZED AND CONFUSED (which, chances are, is probably playing on a cable channel somewhere right now), with a rebellious quarterback and a middle school pitcher being first among its equals. For years Linklater has talked about a script around high school football in Texas. Until that movie actually shows up, I plan to assume it evolved into this movie, set around the hijinks of a college baseball team.
In Texas Monthly in 2005, Linklater wrote:
“After high-school graduation I went back to Huntsville because I got a baseball scholarship to go to Sam Houston State. That was a whole other experience. We just had a reunion last year, and one of my teammates made a copy of our old team photo and sent it to me. I was showing it to my daughter, and she asked, “Do you remember any of these guys?” I said, “Not only do I remember these guys, I can tell you everything about them.” When you’re a team, you practically live together. You care about each other. You like some members more than others, but you accept everybody. You’re a platoon.
It doesn’t take much more to sum up the theme of EVERYBODY WANTS SOME!! “Team” is the theme–what it means to be part of one. Set over the first three days before classes start in 1980, the baseball team lives together. They drink together. They party together. They play pranks together. They chase girls together. Then they wake up and do it again. Each player brings his own thing to the table: McReynolds, the star and leader, Finnegan, the philosophical smooth-talker and the lead character, Jake, a freshman pitcher getting broken into the college ways.
EVERYBODY WANTS SOME!! is often hilarious but, also, quite flawed. As a theater major love interest, Zoey Deutch brings pep and spirit. But it’s still an incredibly standard girl-you-bring-home-to-mother role. The film also showcases Linklater’s shortcomings as a visual director. To use a contemporary, there are more memorable images in the Max Fischer career montage of Wes Anderson’s Rushmore than in the whole of this film. Particularly he doesn’t appear able to shoot a dance scene to save his life. The three dance scenes are three foul balls, with the disco scene feeling like a painful strike three. SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER it is not.
Linklater has labeled EVERYBODY WANTS SOME!! as a spiritual sequel to DAZED AND CONFUSED. Comparing it to another group of spiritual sequels–Whit Stillman’s YUPPIE TRILOGY–DAZED AND CONFUSED equals METROPOLITAN while EVERYBODY WANTS SOME!! is Linklater’s THE LAST DAYS OF DISCO. Solid–but not quite … explosive.