Everybody Wants Some!! Linklater Spiritual Sequel to his 1993 Masterpiece, Dazed and Confused

A “spiritual sequel” to Richard Linklater’s 1993 masterpiece Dazed and Confused, Everybody Wants Some!! is a comedy set in the world of 1980 college life.  It follows a group of friends as they navigate their way through the freedoms and responsibilities of unsupervised adulthood. Get ready for the best weekend ever.

In September of 1980, the world was in transition. Actor turned California governor Ronald Reagan was challenging incumbent President Jimmy Carter. In Eastern Europe, workers were beginning to unionize, weakening the oppressive Soviet regime. At Southeast Texas  State University, freshman Jake Bradford (Blake Jenner) was making his awkward first steps into manhood.

“It’s pretty autobiographical,” confesses Oscar nominated director, writer and producer Richard Linklater. “Looking back, I realize it was a fun time to be in college, not only personally, but it was an interesting cultural moment. It was still the end of the 70s. What people now think of as the 80s really didn’t kick in until ’82 or ’83.

As soon as he arrives at the baseball houses, the frat like homes of STU’s baseball team, Jake receives a less than friendly welcome from senior Glenn McReynolds (Tyler Hoechlin) and his roommate Roper (Ryan Guzman).

“McReynolds’ and Roper see it as their responsibility to toughen up the new guys,” says Hoechlin, explaining his character’s open hostility to his housemates.

“In high school, Jake was a star athlete,” says Jenner. “He’s used to a certain level of respect, but he learns pretty quickly that doesn’t mean anything here.”

Jake is a pitcher, a position McReynolds’ views as “weird” and “a necessary evil”, an opinion likely formed from STU’s bullpen, a line-up consisting of Willoughby (Wyatt Russell), a pot-smoking mystic and Cosmos enthusiast, Jay Niles (Juston Street) a delusional powder keg who believes himself the second coming of Nolan Ryan, Nesbit (Austin Amelio) a hopelessly compulsive gambler, and dip chewing good ol’ boy Billy Autry (Will Brittain), whose housemates promptly assign him the less flattering, more bumpkinish moniker of “Beuter Perkins.”

Providing the sobering ying to McReynolds and Roper’s raging yang is charismatic and fast-talking Finnegan (Glen Powell.) “They break’em down, but Finn builds them back up,” says Powell. “He plays pranks, but it’s never vicious. It’s a rite of passage. At one point he says ‘We all take turns being chumps. You just have to accept your chumpification and pass it on.”’

Finn takes the freshmen under his wing, becoming their de facto tour guide to this brave new world without curfews, and enabling his penchant for arm chair philosophizing. “Finn has two great loves,” says Powell, “Baseball and sex. If he’s playing baseball, he’s thinking about sex. If he’s having sex, he’s thinking about baseball.”

The tour begins with a trip to the girls’ dorms, where Finn’s hard sell is immediately rebuffed, but Jake catches the eye of Beverly (Zoey Deutch), a freshman theater major.

“Beverly is everything that Jake isn’t,” says Deutch. “She’s a performer who knows nothing of the sports world; Jake knows nothing about the theater. Still, there’s an attraction there and they have the weekend to explore it before school starts and everyone settles into their routines.”

As the first day of class approaches, the guys throw themselves into the very best that 1980 has to offer. The first night out, the team hits the town in their tightest jeans and polyester shirts to dance the night away at the local disco, then dons Stetsons to line dance to Cotton Eye Joe at the town’s best honky-tonk bar. Before the weekend is over, Jake and the gang have rocked out to Van Halen and Cheap Trick and survived their first mosh pit at a punk show.

“In 1980, guys would regularly go places and put up with music they didn’t love, as long as they knew there would be women there,” Guzman says. “I guess that hasn’t changed.”

The guys’ thrill-seeking journey captures the eclectic range of popular music in a time when rock, disco, funk, punk and country vied for supremacy.

“I have a personal connection to every song in the movie,” Linklater explains. “I wanted to share the feeling of what it was like to hear these songs coming out of the radio, dancing to them at discos or country bars, or on your home or car stereo. Disco was still happening (it would be “dead” within a year or so), country was suddenly cool in places where it hadn’t been (thanks to the movie URBAN COWBOY), metal was huge, punk and new wave were the new and exciting alternatives, and the earliest examples of what we’d eventually know as hip-hop were popping up. It was an interesting moment musically, with so many artists at the top of their game and so many genres equally sharing the stage.”

One song in particular completely embodied the spirit Linklater wanted for the film. “Van Halen’s “Everybody Wants Some” is a song that perfectly captures the humor and raunch of being eighteen.  When you’re young and passionate, you want to have it all. You assume it’s your birthright, because you’re too young to know better.”

In 1993, Richard Linklater created the quintessential snapshot of small town high school life in the seventies in DAZED AND CONFUSED. After building a diverse filmography of successful arthouse and studio films, including 2014’s critically acclaimed BOYHOOD, a low-key family drama shot in segments over twelve years, Linklater was excited to shift gears and return to his roots.

“This feels like a film I would have done a long time ago,” Linklater say. “It feels good to be flexing these muscles and using that part of my brain again, but bringing a lot more experience.”

As he had previously on DAZED AND CONFUSED, Linklater assembled a cast of young and relatively unknown actors to populate the film. “It’s so much fun working with a large ensemble and a new generation of talented actors,” Linklater explains. “On both films, I cast who I felt was the best actor for the part, regardless of experience or how well known they were.”