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As someone who is a great admirer of Linklater's work, from the Before Trilogy to Tape, from Dazed and Confused to Boyhood, from School of Rock to Bernie, the disappointment that I received from his latest hang-out effort Everybody Wants Some!! is nothing less than crushing. Seen as a spiritual effort to the stoned 1993 classic, Linklater's film is undeniably of his own oeuvre; a low-key riot of wild characters and a cool undercurrent of melancholy. Set to a front-to-back soundtrack of classic 80s hits, its hazy aura - made up of costumes, locations, and a general nostalgic viewpoint - is, at times, overpowering in the best way, but it also reeks of parody; a film made by its singular creator which oddly feels like an imitation of his previous successes and trademarks.
For one, the entire cast of characters aren't nearly as interesting or as deceptively complex as some of Linklater's earlier films. The gang of colllege baseball players surrounding our main - and bland, as always - Linklater protagonist aren't annoying, just reductive. In typical fashion, the audience surrogate soon finds out his various housemates aren't all babbling jocks (but of course, they're not as sensitive as him, we wouldn't want the theatre girl stolen away from the young freshman!), but unlike Dazed and Confused, their "complexities" and character traits are completely surface level, representative of what they are but not *who* they are. It seems like a trivial complaint considering the shaggy vibe of the whole movie, but Linklater wants the audience to bond and feel one with the team, and it isn't successful because I can't see past their surface attributes and quirks. There's only *one* character here (Willoughby) who is as indelible as countless others in Dazed and Confused, and he's practically the same prototype as Matthew McConaughey's Wooderson, just with a few minor qualities changed.
But even beyond the whole foundation of the film's group of college characters not working, the film isn't very funny. I quickly grew tired of their goofy antics, and the writing isn't nearly as strong as some earlier Linklater films. All of the humor is obvious and bro-y, all about getting laid and having fun, but when Linklater tries to inject his classic wistful shift into sensitivity and contemplation, it rings false, most of all because none of these characters are interesting or engaging past their loud, "look at me" mannerisms. It's funny how the classic "The Eye of the Beholder" Twilight Zone episode was mentioned in Everybody Wants Some!!, because for me, Linklater's latest was a chore.