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Linklater’s ‘spiritual sequel’ to Dazed and Confused is here

The homoerotic college flick takes us back to the landline era using a cast that is set to shape the future of cinema

Richard Linklater’s announcement of a ‘spiritual sequel’ to Dazed and Confused raised a few eyebrows. Why tarnish a legacy? And what is a ‘spiritual sequel’, anyway? Don’t worry, people – Linklater has struck another home run with Everybody Wants Some!!, an introspective college comedy that lives, breathes and inhales the essence of his 1993 stoner masterpiece.

Whereas the teenagers of Dazed and Confused were negotiating their final night of high school in the late 70s, Everybody Wants Some!! takes place in 1980, during the first weekend of college, with a new set of characters and an eye-popping array of questionable facial hair. The autobiographical hangout movie has been in the works since 2005, when it was called That’s What I’m Talking About, and it’s pure Linklater. Did you groan when Boyhood finished before you could explore the director’s version of college? Well, now you can. Here’s why Everybody Wants Some!! is a more-than-worthy ‘spiritual sequel’ to Dazed and Confused.

IT CONVEYS THE FREEDOM OF BECOMING AN ADULT AND NOT SLEEPING ENOUGH

Set the weekend before classes begin, Everybody Wants Some!! is a college movie where the only lectures are from sleazy know-it-alls trying to impress freshmen. For Jake (Blake Jenner), the latest Linklater dreamer and doppelganger, that means nonstop boozing and socialising as he’s thrust into the boundless permutations of adulthood. No parents, no curfews – what to do first? Remember that Dazed and Confused has more searching for a party than actual partying, and in its climax, Pink declares, “If any point in the future I start thinking of these as the best years of my life, remind me to kill myself.” But EWS!!, with its plotless poetry, flows to the rhythm of youthful optimism, and for viewers the pleasure is infectious.

 

THERE’S MORE TO THE ROCKING SOUNDTRACK THAN CHEAP NOSTALGIA

Linklater’s pairing of Bob Dylan’s “Hurricane” and Matthew McConaughey’s bar entrance in Dazed and Confused is inspired, and in Everybody Wants Some!!, music is the film’s beating heart and funky soul. With era-appropriate hits such as “Heart of Glass”, “Every 1’s a Winner” and “Good Times Roll”, he identifies the catchy pop that unites strangers.

The soundtrack is clearly close to Linklater (some songs play in full), and there’s an emphasis on how music shapes – even defines – a personality. We’re instantly drawn to Beverly (Zoey Deutch) through the Joni Mitchell poster on her bedroom wall, and the fact that she slams Jim Morrison as a litmus test with potential dates. Besides, you’re dead inside if you can’t nod along appreciatively to Jake spitting multiple verses of “Rapper’s Delight” to impress his new buds. As with Dazed and Confused, Everybody Wants Some!! has to name itself after a song – blame Van Halen for the double exclamation marks.

 

 

 

IT’S A REMINDER TO STOP CARING ABOUT YOUR LEGACY

Dazed and Confused is fraught with hierarchal anxiety – but why? Freshmen disguise their nerves among seniors, who themselves feel obliged to maintain tough facades, and Adam Goldberg’s geek boxes a Goliath-style bully to prevent “humiliation setting in that’s gonna be with me for fucking ever”. Everyone’s so preoccupied with the future, the only character who knows “you’ve just gotta keep L-I-V-I-N’” is McConaughey’s Wooderson, the old dude clinging on to the past. By the time of Everybody Wants Some!!, these teens’ personal histories are erased, and their torturous years fitting in at school vanished. So, remember to seize the moment and live in the present – unless you’re an ace filmmaker shooting an autobiographical movie set 36 years ago.

FEAST YOUR EYES ON THE HOMOEROTIC SUBTEXT

Everybody Wants Some!! is the rare bro movie that’s defiant and apologetic, with its obnoxious jock posturing flavoured with authenticity and macho insecurity. What’s more, Jake’s accommodation is a testosterone-heavy house cramming half-naked baseball dudes into tight spaces. Despite their preoccupation with chasing girls, scarcely a frame passes without buff guys exposing their abs or bulging shorts, along with what’s surely the hunkiest cast since Magic Mike. When Vulture told Linklater it’s “accidentally one of the gayest movies of the year”, he responded, “I’ve been around a long time. It’s not inadvertent.”

IT’S AN ODE TO ANCIENT TIMES WHEN WE WEREN’T HANDCUFFED TO SMARTPHONES

Everybody Wants Some!! takes us back to a mythical age of going out without a mobile phone, where nights are blind expeditions deprived of Google Maps and no one worries about being tagged on Instagram after an alcohol-fuelled debauch. Dates happen via landlines. Small talk receives full attention. Jake and Beverly deliberately get lost in the woods after dark, oblivious to the morning hours ticking down. There are echoes of Dazed and Confused in the way a last-minute keg party expands through word of mouth – which scarcely seems possible in uber-connected 2016. Ah, those were the days (that you maybe didn’t experience, in which case too bad, because they’re never coming back).

 

THE CAST ARE THE NEXT BIG THINGS

In the doc Making Dazed, Wiley Wiggins recalls stumbling out of a coffee shop when Linklater asked if he fancied starring in a movie. Parker Posey, Matthew McConaughey, Ben Affleck and Renée Zellweger were also unknowns in 1993, but now they’re household names. If you can’t stand Affleck’s subsequent work, blame Linklater’s knack for discovering the humanity of up-and-comers.

With Everybody Wants Some!!, history will surely repeat itself – the actors are too talented to fail. Watch how the ensemble walk and talk as real charmers, with impeccable comic timing and readymade “alright, alright, alright” catchphrases. A scan for credits reveals near-empty IMDb pages, but this lot will surely be too famous to attend the 2026 anniversary screenings. (Side note: Temple Baker, a scene-stealer in his film debut, has a LinkedIn profile revealing he went on to intern at Annapurna Pictures after postproduction. Did he get to smoke weed with Megan Ellison? Just wondering.)

 

 

YOU’LL LEARN TO BROADEN YOUR FRIENDSHIP GROUPS

Ignore the trailer and logline – Everybody Wants Some!! is not a dumb frat boy movie. As with all of Linklater’s work, the meaning of it all evolves beyond the end credits, perhaps crisscrossing with your own memories, and the biggest takeaway is how Jake defies his jock credentials for a new identity unshackled by labels. He goes “punk for a night”, hits disco and country clubs, and eagerly attends a party thrown by oddball drama students. When his baseball bros tag along and join in with the fancy-dress parlour games, it’s a harmonious sight: conflicting personalities sharing a joint, taking time to appreciate the other.

In Dazed and Confused, the heroes are the inclusive seniors Pink and Jodi, who invite hazing victims to hang out for the night. When Pink defends his stoner pals to the football coach you foresee a bright future for a guy who’ll forge his own path to happiness. Whereas if you fast-forward Ben Affleck’s bat-wielding O’Bannion to 2016, he’d probably be as miserable as, well, the real Ben Affleck in 2016.

Look, Everybody Wants Some!! doesn’t pass the Bechdel Test, but that’s because Jake requires time to find Beverly and take an interest in her world of arts. And when he does, it’s apparent Everybody Wants Some!! is not only a sequel to Dazed and Confused, it’s the romantic bridge to Before Sunrise. Linklater himself attended college in 1980 on a baseball scholarship, and through expanding his social horizons he discovered the filmmaker hidden inside. With EWS!!, he’s sharing more than an origin story – it’s a beautiful life lesson that can inspire us all.