Nothing much happens in Richard Linklater’s Everybody Wants Some!! (What do they want? It’s a clever title, which becomes clearer as the movie progresses.) The movie takes place the weekend before classes start at Texas Southern University, late August, 1980. Linklater follows the members of the school’s baseball team as they drink and pursue girls, while establishing the team’s pecking order via assorted juvenile contests.
Blake Jenner, open-faced and hugely appealing, is a newly-arrived freshman. The film’s POV is mostly limited to his experience, as he accompanies his teammates to various clubs and parties. There is one baseball practice session, but Linklater isn’t concerned with the game – it’s the tribe of young athletes, and their attendant boasts and rituals, that interests him.
We’ve been conditioned by teen sex comedies and sports films to expect certain milestones and story beats – Linklater suggests some of those with a wink, before changing tack. The result is a genial, mostly happy film – it reminded me of George Lucas’ American Graffiti (1973), minus the awful closing titles that revealed the characters’ fates.
Everybody Wants Some!! turns out to be pretty great at recalling the urgency and aimlessness of youth. I enjoyed it more than Linklater’s Boyhood (2014), which should have been called Motherhood. This film is more focused but less insistent, ultimately sweeter and more resonant than expected.