By Mark Saldana

Rating: 3 (Out of 4 Stars)

I found it fitting that the opening night film of Austin’s largest and most recognized international film festival would feature the newest film by Austin favorite-son filmmaker Richard Linklater.  Following the critical success of his twelve-year project Boyhood, Linklater decided to make what has been dubbed as a “spiritual sequel” to his second feature film Dazed and Confused.  Based on his high school experiences during the 1970s, Dazed and Confused plays very much like George Lucas’ American Graffiti and portrays a fun and eventful night in the life of high school students on the last day of school before the summer.  Like Graffiti, Dazed and Confused serves as a time capsule of its respective era and is a nostalgic journey that accurately depicts the fashion, music, and attitudes of the year 1976.

Linklater’s new film jumps ahead four years to 1980 and is based on his experiences as a baseball-playing college student.  The film stars Blake Jenner as protagonist Jake, a college freshman who spends the last weekend before the start of classes getting to know his teammates through bonding, partying, and some mild hazing.  Like Dazed and Confused before it, Everybody Wants Some!! is a time capsule of 1980, a year which still has some of the characteristics of the late 1970s (disco, funk, punk), but is starting to show some new changes  (Urban Cowboy making country music hip).  The difference this time, however, is that Linklater’s tribute to 1980 lacks the depth, soul, and more intelligent sensibilities of his 1970’s tribute.

Don’t get me wrong, though, Linklater’s latest is a lot of fun and has a good share of funny gags and quotable lines.  This movie feels more akin to college fraternity, late night comedies of the late 1970s and 1980s such as Animal House, minus the over-the-top cartoonish gags and more raunchy moments.  The film does have its heart and it belongs to the protagonist Jake who plays a typical nice guy, but is hip and cool with the more off-color antics of his buddies.  Blake Jenner is perfectly cast in this role and delivers a charismatic and earnest performance.

The film also features some commendable work by Ryan Guzman, Tyler Hoechlin, Glenn Powell, J. Quinton Johnson, Temple Baker, Will Brittain, and Forrest Vickery.  I feel the stand-out performances in the film come from Tanner Kalina who is quite funny as the mousy and validation-seeking Brumley, Juston Street who is an absolute riot as the bizarre, misfit pitcher Niles, and Wyatt Russell who is awesome as the stoner guru of the team Willoughby.  The charming and lovely Zoey Deutch offers a solid turn as Jake’s love interest Beverly.

Though not as remarkable as Dazed and Confused, Everybody Wants Some!! is a funny and highly entertaining film.  Fans of Linklater’s tribute to the 1976 will probably also enjoy his homage to 1980.  In some ways it really is a spiritual sequel and would most definitely make a great double feature with its predecessor.  Audiences will probably have to wait a few years to find out if Linklater will make a movie based on a year during the 1990s, perhaps based on his post-collegiate, filmmaking experiences.  Either way, I always look forward to what Richard Linklater has to offer, as he is one of my favorite directors working today.


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