Richard Linklater’s films may careen wildly between heady, comedic firecrackers and thoughtful, dramatic meditations on time, yet the director’s love for nostalgia and his penchant for sharp curation of setting and period marks both types of film, making the shift in genre still part of the same vision. Everybody Wants Some!! may serve as a confectionary detour for Linklater after the emotional high-water mark of Before Midnight (2013) and Boyhood (2014), yet there is a lot more to admire here than some of the director’s other, less fulfilling comedies such as Bad News Bears, perhaps the nadir of his impressive filmography.

Everybody Wants Some!! follows Southeast Texas University’s baseball team in the waning days of the summer of 1980, as the men on the team get ready for the new season and the fall semester by drinking beer, hanging out, chasing chicks and waxing poetic on a variety of subjects, as do most characters in a Linklater joint. It’s party time and Everybody Wants Some!! is more or less made up of a collection of scenes featuring its protagonists fighting, fucking and getting drunk. Life’s just one long party as Linklater wistfully shows the guys dancing at a disco, playing ping-pong and even stepping out of their jock comfort zones while attending a punk show and a party perpetrated by theatre majors.

Billed as the spiritual sequel to Dazed and Confused, Everybody Wants Some!! is much like Linklater’s much-beloved 1993 comedy with its lovable, aimless plot and cast of unknown actors. Lest we forget, Matthew McConaughey, Ben Affleck and Parker Posey had yet to bust out before Dazed. Here, we meet Jake (Blake Jenner), a freshman pitcher, as he moves into one of the two adjacent off-campus houses designated for baseball players. Handsome and somewhat shy, Jake is soon indoctrinated into a world of pussy and beer by his teammates, including the fast-talking Finnegan (Glenn Powell) and alpha-male team captain McReynolds (Tyler Hoechlin). There is even a Wooderson character hiding in plain sight here, but I’ll leave that up to you to make the connection.

The party is just about to get started when the men on the team learn there is to be no drinking in the house and no ladies upstairs. Yeah, right. Like that’s going to stop them. Linklater’s vision of college is a utopic one: a time and place where people have nothing better to do than hang out, shoot the shit and look good. Class and studying are an afterthought. Danger and responsibility don’t exist. A lot of us remember our college years as the best of our lives, a halcyon epoch of life with no rules, eating and drinking without calorie counting or remorse and sleeping in until 1pm. It’s this giddy whimsy that makes Everybody Wants Some!! so damned likable.

As a historian, Linklater gives lavish, loving attention to the period, down to the waist-high jeans and carefully manicured mustaches. We hear his characters examine copies of the “Twilight Zone” taped from TV to VHS, listen to Meddle and Easter on the turntable and watch as they discuss Carl Sagan and Van Halen. Baseball hardly even comes into it. It’s the camaraderie, the building and inner workings of a tribe, that really interests Linklater. For most millennials, 1980 is as alien a milieu as the 1960s were to us Gen Xers. For those of us old enough to remember the early ‘80s (or barely remember), Everybody Wants Some!! is a fun trip down the avenues of nostalgia.

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