Sometimes, when a movie plays at South by Southwest (SXSW), it’s not just a screening, it’s a celebration. Last year, that was true about The Breakfast Club. This year, the celebration was for the opening night premier of Richard Linklater’s Everybody Wants Some.
This film, which had been sitting on Linklater’s dream list for years, is something of a subtle homage to one of his earlier films, Dazed and Confused. But before the film screened, Linklater (School of Rock, A Scanner Darkly, Boyhood) was introduced to the standing-room-only audience in Austin’s classic Paramount Theater by Louis Black. Black is one of the four people who founded SXSW in 1987.
Black first made the announcement that one of the other founders of SXSW, Louis Myers, had died that morning on the 30th anniversary of the festival. He told the story of how four people had sat around the local newspaper office 30 years ago and come up with the idea for a regional music festival. It grew from there.
Black gave much of the credit for that growth to Linklater, explaining, “When Ric had his first hit with Slacker in 1991, he didn’t run off to Hollywood like most people would have. He stayed here and continued to make films in Austin. That was the beginning of the film community we have today.”
Over the years that community grew to include other luminaries such as director Robert Rodriguez and animator Mike Judge.
Black then brought out Linklater and the film’s ensemble cast, which featured Blake Jenner (Glee, Supergirl) and Zoey Deutch (Vampire Academy, Dirty Grandpa). Black asked Linklater if the film was autobiographical and, if so, which one of the characters in the film was most like him.
Linklater conceded that there was a little bit of him in all the characters. He paid tribute to the cast for the way they worked together to bring his longtime dream to fruition.
In preparation for watching Everybody Wants Some, I had re-watched the film Linklater made in 1994, Dazed and Confused. Half the fun of watching Dazed and Confused now is identifying and seeing the actors who then were young and unknown, such as Ben Affleck, Matthew McConaughey, Parker Posey, Milla Jovovich, and Renée Zellweger. Many others from that ensemble cast, though not household names, went on to careers in film and TV that continue today.
It was that film that debuted McConaughey’s now famous catchphrase “Alright, alright, alright.”
Dazed and Confused was set in a high school in the 1970s. Everybody Wants Some is set in the 1980s and involves college kids. Both films deal with the social and sexual challenges of the transitions we go through trying to grow up.
The films are also similar because the protagonists are both athletes in conflict with their coaches. Both films also almost continually play music from the film’s period, something I enjoyed tremendously.
Although Linklater intentionally gave the films a parallel feel and plot, his progress as a filmmaker was obvious.
Both films involve the lives of many students. It was not always clear as I watched Dazed and Confused who was the real protagonist. This was not the case with Everybody Wants Some, which tells the story of a college freshman baseball player, portrayed by Blake Jenner. Zoey Deutch is the love interest, although for half of the film she is mysterious and unapproachable.
Neither film is “deep and meaningful.” Both of them are lots of fun. If you are a fan of Linklater or just enjoy films about the travails of growing up, you will definitely want to add Everybody Wants Some to your must-see list.
Everybody Wants Some is rated “R” and opens in theaters on April 1. You can view a trailer below.