Sarah_C’s review published on Letterboxd:
Can you have a story without conflict? That's something that Linklater has addressed with Everybody Wants Some. But, being the kind of dude who's gotta push the boat out in terms of film making, he also decided to combine this with some other brave ideas. Can you have a story without plot development? Or without compelling characters? Linklater's answer? Everybody Wants Some. It's a resounding yes, with the caveat that it's also really, really bad. But that's okay. It's only two hours of my life I'll never get back, right?
Everybody Wants Some concerns itself with the activities of the Southeast Texas College baseball team in its preseason. The film follows Jake "Handsome" Boyman, a handsome freshman whose main characteristic other than his floppy hair is that he's somehow really really deep and probably way smarter than those around him, but not in way that Linklater would care to elaborate on. Jake and his handsome teammates handsome their way through the handsome days before their handsome classes start in the handsome handsome fall term, kegging it up, banging the hottest chicks and occasionally doing baseball. Oh, I'm sorry, did I mention that they're all extremely handsome? I feel like that should be stressed as for many of them it's their main attribute. Which I guess is nice. It also gives the film the feel that it's the set up for a gay porno with the best production values you're ever going to see. Also nice, I suppose.
What I suspect happened with Everybody Wants Some is that Linklater wanted to take his usual "slice of life" thing and slap it onto a more conventional narrative, but forgot that you need more than world building to make that work. Most scenes could have been switched around and you wouldn't bat an eyelid, because it really just wouldn't make any difference. There is no character development, no plot progression, and no way of knowing what the sequence was supposed to be in the first place. My boyfriend, who is more charitable to Everybody Wants Some than I am, observed that the standout scenes here such as the one in which the characters sit around getting high would, in Dazed and Confused, have been little more than an average, world building segment to establish character or setting. Here, the same kind of scene is considered to be the highlight. This is compounded by the fact that the camera here is so much more controlling than it was in Dazed and Confused; there you could follow any of the multiple narratives going on onscreen or just take in the mis-en-scene in general, while here it is much more insistent that we follow and care about the characters, and in particular the one focused on by the camera. This would have been an easier ask if the characters had been interesting, or at least if they had had actual challenges to face.
Yes, their complete lack of challenges. One of the oddest things about Everybody Wants Some is that the occasional challenge is alluded to but never actually leads to anything. Sometimes the team mates get too competitive. Sometimes the team is told they can't do something. It doesn't actually stop them from doing whatever they were going to do anyway. Maybe Everybody Wants Some would have benefited from covering a longer length of time than just three days, in order for them to be some sort of follow-through, I'm not really sure. Anyhow, despite being our point of entry for the movie and coming-of-age-dude, Jake Boyman is a very unsatisfactory choice of protagonist. Mainly because Jake came of age a long time before Everybody Wants Some began. He is clearly already familiar with the nuances of college life and has no problem whatsoever fitting in. Any setbacks (and he encounters hardly any) are momentary at best. He has to wait about five minutes longer than he would like to have sex with a pretty girl. He is a bit miffed that his team mates are in his room without his permission. He gets over it. I think Everybody Wants Some would have been better suited had it focused on one of the less-than-outstandingly good looking team mates, quite simply because they had a semblance of character instead. You know, at least they had to work to impress a girl.
All in all, Everybody Wants Some is a creepy mix of realism and escapism. It might in fact be realistic for a bunch of jocks to mess around formlessly before the start of classes spouting psuedo-intellectual claptrap, but that doesn't mean it makes for an interesting film. Perhaps in real life there are people who walk around stating the obvious and rendering what should be subtext into, well, just text, but that kind of thing is irrelevant and unhelpful in a movie. It also doesn't sit well with me that Linklater's nostalgia trip through college includes (if not depends upon) having girls on tap. It's uninspired since it's exactly the kind of thing that every college movie ever has focused on. Could he not have tried something new?
The positives? I liked when the cat came out of the fridge and the guy said the cat shouldn't be in the fridge. That was a moment of levity we all deserved. And if you're a fan of porn 'taches, you're gonna have a good time.