Everybody Wants Some

A new film from Richard Linklater

BY Bert Rebhandl in Culture Digest | 02 MAY 16

To open a movie with The Knack’s 'My Sharona' (1979) is a proclamation in itself. This won’t be a subtle exercise in auteurism, but something a bit more populist – like a birthday DJ who wants to get things going on the dancefloor. The party would be a retro one of course, but 'My Sharona' is one of those pieces of culture that actually transcends generational gaps. The song has become an archetype, and this is exactly the way Richard Linklater uses it in his new movie Everybody Wants Some. It is also a historical marker. The year is 1980, and promising baseball player and freshman college student Jake drives into a small southwestern US town to start a new chapter of his life. 'My Sharona' is on the car radio, a welcome boost for the initiations to come: a first training session with the more experienced guys, a first date with a girl from theatre class, first steps into the supposedly best period of an All-American life. 1993: after the success of his path-breaking indie experiment Slacker (1991), Linklater had shot Dazed and Confused, a very endearing comedy of high school nostalgia, to which Everybody Wants Some is a sequel of sorts.

Richard Linklater, Everybody Wants Some, 2016. Courtesy: Paramount

Linklater is maybe the best populist in American cinema after John Ford. While that old master was rooted in the mythologies of the 19th-century (a nation of immigrants faces its frontiers), Linklater is a child of pop culture (his 2003 comedy School of Rock is currently being developed into a TV series), yet still faithful to the particularly traditionalist US state he hails from, Texas. Everybody Wants Some is decidedly light, a study of homosocial behaviour that needs no distinction between jock and nerd, star and sidekick. The ensemble of American males, at once ageless in their Village People-ish pansexual glory, yet already hinting at their fast demise into working life’s strains, makes the moment of 1980 feel like a dream: for young people this was not about Carter and Reagan, Tehran and Panama, but about 'My Sharona' and 'Pop Muzik': ‘living in a disco, forget about the rat race.’ In Every Wants Some, the disco is called Sound Machine, and the rat race is a far cry from the glory of youth.

Bert Rebhandl is a journalist, writer and translator who lives in Berlin. He co-founded and co-edits Cargo magazine.