I'm a HUGE fan of Linklater. His "Before" trilogy is some of my favorite filmmaking EVER, and I have always been enamored of Dazed and Confused, which is the movie Everybody Wants Some!! is supposed to be the "spiritual successor" to, according to apparently everyone who has eyes or something. But for me, Everybody Wants Some!! is several steps backward for Linklater, and comparing it to Dazed and Confused is a superficial judgment at best.
Everybody Wants Some!! (2016) - The pic above is this movie in a nutshell --
an Instagram post lost in its own nostalgia glow.
There are loads of problems with this movie, starting with its rather dull and forgettable lead actor and the fact that I can't for the life of me remember most of the characters' names. (I remember McReynolds because I mused that he must have been nicknamed that due to his amazing Burt Reynolds-esque mustache.) But above all else, the movie has two Big Problems.
1. It's Completely Aimless and Pointless
Look, Dazed and Confused may have included a bunch of hanging around, but that movie had a destination. At its core, it's a "party movie" and everything centered around that big party in the woods. Every event in the movie was headed there, every character and plot point converged there, and you could firmly divide the movie into "stuff that happens before the party," "the actual party," and "stuff that happens after the party." The "Before" movies all have a destination and turning points. Everybody Wants Some!! has none of that. The characters go to like four parties, have a baseball practice, hang out and drink and smoke pot, and at the end whatsisname goes to his first class and promptly falls asleep. Credits. Whoops, sorry, spoiler alert. Even Boyhood had a semblance of a destination (though not much of one). Maybe I'm crazy, but I don't think it's a good thing when I get excited by the mere passage of time in a movie because it means we're closer to the movie being over.
2. There Is Literally Only One Woman in the Film Who Is an Actual Character.
I realize that it's a movie about guys. I can get behind that. And I can certainly get behind the ogling of these nice-looking dudes in their tight jeans. (There are moments in this movie that are definitely giving us some "female gaze," though the male gaze is in full force as well.) And it's not like there *aren't* women in this movie. There are plenty of them. But 99 percent of them are disposable eye candy who aren't on screen more than 60 seconds. There is one woman whose sole purpose is to pull down her jeans and let the camera linger on her bare ass. I can't imagine how she is credited -- Ass Girl? And the one woman who is actually a character? Is barely a character. In any other movie, she would have been the cardboard cut-out dream girl. That she actually looks like a character in this movie is exactly the problem. I've seen arguments that the portrayal of women is deliberate and that it's "making a statement" and I call BS on that. You can say that about literally anything.
Yes, I get that this movie is not about women and not especially for them either. And I can enjoy a movie that isn't exactly built for me. But movies made about and for women don't exclude or exploit men like this. To the extent that a female version of this movie even exists, you don't see this. The chick-iest of chick flicks still have at least a couple of well-rounded male characters.
I'm not saying Everybody Wants Some!! is a *bad* movie. And it's not like there aren't things to enjoy about it (I'm developing quite a crush on Glen Powell, who plays (*looks up character's name*) Finnegan right now). But I feel very strongly that it's sorely lacking in at least those two pretty big areas, and the near universal love for the movie is mind-boggling to me.