Whether you like him or not, Richard Linklater is simultaneously a unique, prolific and accomplished filmmaker. He’s managed to stealthily glide between genres throughout his career and nearly always leave a worthwhile impression with each of his forays. From the youthful haze of Slacker (1991) and the poetically opaque Before Sunrise trilogy, to the smug glee of School of Rock (2003) and Oscar-worthy generation-spanning Boyhood (2014), it’s hard to deny his ambition and skill.
However, this year’s outing feels somewhat of a re-tread. Touted as the “Spiritual Sequel” to the devastatingly iconic and influential Dazed & Confused (1993), it’s hard not to approach college baseball fly-on-the-wall chill-a-thon Everybody Wants Some!! with a healthy level of caution. While Linklater’s managed to masterfully develop his singular concepts in the past, specifically with Before Sunrise (1995), one can’t help but find themselves asking por que? Why bother revisiting something so perfectly realised and accomplished almost two decades earlier? Why revisit the same themes and concepts without the intention of building upon them? Especially from such a varied and original filmmaker.
However, the answer becomes expediently clear within the first ten minutes… By adopting the same aimless and lackadaisical rhythm as its predecessor – and crafting such an authentic world through dialogue, characters and aesthetic – you once again forget about purpose or plot and are content to simply be present, shooting the breeze with similarly aloof and none-the-wiser peers. That was the magic captured in Dazed & Confused that Linklater has remarkably managed to recapture here.
The classic rock soundtrack is unquestionably perfect – not that anyone really had any doubts. Kicking off proceedings with The Knack’s killer “My Sharona”, the pace is set. From here on in we are giddily invited to the hippest celluloid party of the summer. Relentlessly pasting together cuts from Blondie, The Cars, Van Halen, Devo and The Sugar Hill Gang, we are given the ideal sonic canvas from which to slide comfortably into 1980s’ Texas.
Blake Jenner, Zoey Deutch and Wyatt Russell impress across a notably accomplished ensemble cast. There’s a confident, slow burning energy captured on screen that many filmmakers will undoubtedly kill for, but it doesn’t quite reach the dizzying heights that Dazed & Confused did. Regardless, as an audience you never feel short-changed, rather blessed to eat another slice of meanderingly perfect Americana hand-made by the king himself: Linklater.