Quentin Tarantino once described Howard Hawks’ 1959 western Rio Bravo, starring John Wayne and Dean Martin, as a ‘hang out movie’ because it’s a movie you watch, not just because of its artistic qualities, but also so you can spend time with the characters. Creating a hangout movie isn’t an easy job to perfect because you want to have a story that’s easy going but should have at least some point to it and you really, really have to get the large ensemble of characters right, because in hang out movies that’s the only kind of ensembles there are.
Over the course of time, there have been a number of great hang out movies that come to mind. George Lucas’s American Graffiti, Animal House, Can’t Hardly Wait, is a really underrated favorite of mine, but perhaps the greatest of them all that perfectly uses the hang out movie formula is undoubtedly Richard Linklater’s Dazed & Confused.
And I guess what I really love about that film is just how laid back it is. It’s just one of those movies you want to sit back and chill out to. And while Linklater’s career has been full of some really interesting choices as a filmmaker, I haven’t seen him make a film as relaxed, natural and easy going as Dazed & Confused.
Yes my friends, Everybody Wants Some!! isn’t just the spiritual successor to Dazed & Confused but it is also an amazing hang out movie. I love this film. It is definitely the most fun I’ve had watching any movie this year and the film itself calls back to Linklater’s early days when he had just broken out as a filmmaker, wasn’t perusing bloated twelve year long experiments and was happy just to make a film that had a really cool vibe.
And Everybody Wants Some!! has that really cool vibe. It feels organic, it’s laid-back and it has this really infectious charm to it. It’s a movie that just wants to have a good time. It’s actually one of the rare cases when I wish the film was actually an hour longer because I wanted to hang out with these characters a little longer.
The plot is pretty straight-forward, set in Austin, Texas in 1980, the film follows a group of college baseball players, both sophomore and freshmen who basically hangout, party and navigate their way through the freedoms and responsibilities of unsupervised adulthood during the weekend before College commences.
One of the things I love about Linklater’s filmmaking is his ability to direct younger and more inexperienced actors and how he’s able to give them room to do their own thing.
He has a whole ensemble of fresh faces to direct in this film and I think he does a really great job by not only encompassing each character with their own unique personality and making them more than just your average jocks, but also by giving each actor ample time on-screen to make their mark. And the performances all work so well because they feel quite natural and it doesn’t feel like any of the actors are acting at all, really. Glen Powell and Blake Jenner (no relation to ‘those’ Jenners) really stand-out, out of whom, Powell’s charismatic yet understated turn was a definite highlight for me.
If there’s any complaint I had with Everybody Wants Some!! its that it actually left me wanting more. I think it’s actually one of the best things Linklater has ever done. It has great characters, it’s funny, and a movie that feels so very alive. I want to see more of ‘laid-back’ Linklater!