Legendary filmmaker Howard Hawks’ definition of what makes a “good movie” was pretty simple: “Three great scenes, no bad ones.” By that definition, director Richard Linklater’s new movie, Everybody Wants Some, comes close. There are no bad scenes, but by my count there are only two great ones. Linklater himself has been quoted as saying the movie is a “spiritual sequel” to his 1993 near-classic* film Dazed and Confused, so it’s instructive to compare the two.
Everybody Wants Some doesn’t reach the dizzying highs of its predecessor because of its focus. If you aren’t familiar with Dazed and Confused, that picture’s core was an ensemble of misfits and oddballs on the last day of school in May 1976. (Or, to use the parlance of Judd Apatow and Paul Feig’s seminal television show that Linklater’s movie likely inspired, the freaks and geeks entering their first or last years of high school.) Junior-high student and baseball pitcher Mitch was the audience surrogate in that film. He was tormented over the course of the movie by some of the newly minted seniors who relished the opportunity to haze the incoming freshmen using a giant paddle. Ben Affleck played the most assholish of this group, O’Bannion, and it’s particularly satisfying when he gets his comeuppance.
I bring up that group of jerks because their college counterparts are at the center of Everybody Wants Some. Their edges have been softened considerably, but these college jocks act like masters of their universe, because they are. Their preoccupations are what you’d expect them to be, the three B’s: baseball, beer, and bangin’, not necessarily in that order. Because that’s who and what the movie devotes its time to, there is an emotional resonance that is conspicuously missing, particularly when compared to Dazed and Confused.