Richard Linklater’s ’80s collegiate baseball film “Everybody Wants Some!!” can only be described in the same way you might talk about college jocks – attractive, dumb and charming, against your better judgment. Linklater has described the film as a spiritual sequel to “Dazed and Confused,” but “Everybody Wants Some!!” is too limited and uncritical in its perspective to achieve the nuanced point of view that marked “Dazed.”
The loose plot of “Everybody Wants Some!!” starts three days before the start of classes at a large Texas university, with the arrival of freshman pitcher Jake (Blake Jenner) at his new home, the baseball house. Like any family, the older and wiser players take the newbies under their wings and teach them the ways of their new world: how to hit on girls, flaunt the house rules and turn everything into a competition.
It’s fair to say (going off the title alone) that this film is rather obsessed with the pursuit and conquest of the fairer sex, though not in what any of these women have to say. One female character is fleshed out, theater major Beverly (Zoey Deutch), but she’s still a sex object. It’s not quite fair to judge “Everybody Wants Some!!” by the sexual and identity politics of 2016, but therein lies the loophole that Linklater is able to exploit – the film gleefully frolics in the sexist objectification of women behind a retro veneer of shaggy haircuts, polyester pants and misbegotten mustaches.
For all the crude sex talk and masculine posturing, it’s hard to be tough on these boys, because they’re darn fun to be around. Linklater perfectly captures the jocular, joshing banter and intense bond between teammates. The in-between, less dramatic bits – cruising to “Rapper’s Delight,” intense games of pingpong, merciless teasing – prove to be the most entertaining and insightful. In fact, it’s in these moments that “Everybody Wants Some!!” excels as a rich ethnography of the hazing and mating rituals of this mysterious homosocial subculture, rife with obsessive discussion about male genitalia.
Glen Powell proves to be a breakout star as the faux-deep raconteur Finnegan, and Wyatt Russell slyly steals the show as a new transfer player and epic stoner of mysterious provenance. Juston Street is the most broadly comedic as a manic, bespectacled pitcher, and Tyler Hoechlin, Ryan Guzman and J. Quinton Johnson also stand out, part of the senior crew who teach the boys to become men. Jenner serves as the Linklater proxy – the non-threatening freshman who slips easily into the practice hard/play harder lifestyle at the baseball house – but he’s just the vessel by which we enter this world; there’s nothing particularly interesting about him.
It’s all too easy to enjoy slipping into this beer-sticky universe, floating on a cloud of testosterone and marijuana, aided by a perfectly era-specific soundtrack. But the pleasure in this nostalgia for wanton, unsupervised partying and sex is from a very straight male perspective – the film has no real interest in illuminating the experiences of any non-baseball players in the picture. That narrowness of perspective nags throughout, but the allure of beefcake and disco is all too heady a brew to resist.
Everybody Wants Some!!
Cast: Blake Jenner, Wyatt Russell Ryan Guzman, Tyler Hoechlin, Glen Powell, Juston Street, J. Quinton Johnson, Zoey Deutch
Director: Richard Linklater
Rated R (for language throughout, sexual content, drug use and some nudity)