The crowd full of Austinites at the city’s Paramount Theater absolutely loved Everybody Wants Some, Richard Linklater’s latest film that is to Texas in 1980 what his earlier Dazed and Confused was to Texas in 1976. They laughed so loudly at the jokes it obscured subsequent dialogue, clapped outright during a couple of scenes and, at least near where I was sitting, practically interacted with it Rocky Horror-style at parts. I have no idea whether Everybody Wants Some will take its place next to Dazed and Confused as a seminal cult classic and career-maker for its ensemble cast, but for damn sure if American films only played for Texas audiences, Everybody would sweep awards season and be required viewing for anyone emigrating to Texas who wants to understand the “Keep Austin Weird” mindset.
Following the first weekend of college for a group of freshman baseball players as they integrate into the team, Everybody Wants Some presents a deliberately filtered-through-nostalgia view of the era as the characters essentially spend three days drinking, carousing, uttering constant quips and wandering from party to party. That explains in part why tonight’s world premiere that kicked off SXSW 2016 felt like Linklater had been crowned homecoming king. The other part, of course, is that this is the festival’s 30th anniversary overall and 23rd anniversary for the film portion, and Linklater is widely credited by locals as the reason the Austin film scene even exists. As such the premiere was preceded by an introduction by SXSW co-founder Louis Black that paid tribute to his long affiliation with the city and, especially, his decision to remain there after his breakthrough, Slacker, rather than move to Los Angeles. Linklater repaid those kind words with his own for the festival and for his friends running it before bringing the cast for a quick intro prior to the film’s start.
After it ended to sustained cheers during the closing credits sequence featuring the main cast rapping about their characters in the style of “Rapper’s Delight,” Linklater and the cast came back out for an audience Q&A session that, in keeping with the night’s mood, felt like old friends clowning each other over drinks (particularly since Linklater wore a very Texas blue-and-white Western button down shirt). Not much that isn’t already known came out as a result. The arguable standout moment came when Zoey Deutch handled things extremely well when an awkward but (probably) well-meaning high school senior used his question to ask her to prom. “Yes,” she said, “but I’m not wearing heels.” I doubt she’ll actually go and she shouldn’t have to — seriously, people, stop using Q&A sessions to ask personal requests — but it did end up adding to the charm of the proceedings.
Some other highlights:
* The majority of the film’s cast are native Texans.
* Star Blake Jenner had never played baseball before taking the role.
* Linklater based “almost everything” on events he actually experienced, the major exception a hazing late in the film involving duct tape and a wooden fence. So it was that several members of his college baseball team were in attendance at the premiere.
* The cast referred to Linklater as “Rickipedia,” owing to his impressive memory for details, such as the release dates of specific songs down to the week, month and year.
Everybody Wants Some also screens Saturday and Friday at SXSW before heading into wide release April 1.