April 1, 2022 | LIFE | By Frances Thyer | Illustration by Patil Khakhamian
Everyone’s lives are dictated by some variation of routine. We eat at certain times, attend class when it’s scheduled, see similar friends each week, and go to bed at around the same time every night. There are times when the monotonous nature of routine can begin to dull the beauty in things, as most people crave the courage to regularly dive into the unknown and resist dependency on the familiar.
In the films “Everybody Wants Some!!” and “Dazed and Confused,” we see what appears at first glance as kids in two different decades essentially just hang out. However, at the conclusion of the movies, the audience is left feeling nostalgia for another time, empathy for the characters, and appreciation for the most mundane moments in life.
Academy Award winning director Richard Linklater masterfully casts the aura of the 1970s and 80s over the themes of finding oneself and looking for joy in every moment in these two films.
“Dazed and Confused,” released in 1993, follows a group of kids through their last day of high school in the 1970s. While the film does involve baseball and certain events move the plot along, it is essentially a collection of character explorations planted in an aesthetic period piece.
“Everybody Wants Some!!,” reaching audiences in 2016, focuses on a group of college baseball players in the 1980s through the weekend before their classes begin. While the two films have completely different casts and locations, “Everybody Wants Some!!” is a spiritual sequel to its predecessor of more than 20 years, “Dazed and Confused.”
Linklater is also the director of “Boyhood,” a coming-of-age film which captures the same cast over 12 years. The same commitment to capturing growing up is apparent in “Dazed and Confused” and “Everybody Wants Some!!,” as he manages to transition from one into the other without ever referencing their connection. Unrelated characters work through similar broad philosophical questions about meaning and passion in both films, despite being in different stages of their lives
The soundtrack to these two films is notable as it is an especially effective measure in creating the nostalgic energy essential to a period piece. In “Dazed and Confused,” classic 70s music such as “School’s Out” by Alice Cooper, “Low Rider” by War, and “Slow Ride” by Foghat pulls the audience into that time.
Given that “Everybody Wants Some!!” is set in the 80s, a period of musical transition, the film limbos between many genres. In one of the first scenes, we see the boys listening to rap in the car, punk rock in the parking lot, and disco music inside the bar. The soundtrack underlies the newfound freedom that comes with college and the characters’ desire to have it all.
Turning points in high school and college are often distinctly marked with questions about identity and one’s place in the world. The characters in Linklater’s films are particularly apt character studies because they rarely express their frustration or curiosity about the world in straightforward ways. Instead, we are left with an equally if not greater understanding of individuals psyches as they throw ping pong rackets at each other’s heads, discuss telepathy while smoking weed, or knock over mailboxes out of drunken boredom.
The protagonist of “Everybody Wants Some!!” says, at one point, that he feels as though he’s having an identity crisis, which he then explains is because in the last three nights they had mindlessly danced at a disco, line danced to cotton eyed joe, and even been punk for one night. After pausing a moment, he finishes with a thought very suited to Linklater’s films: “it sort of begs the question about who we really are.”
“Everybody Wants Some!!” and “Dazed and Confused” are available on various streaming platforms.