The South by Southwest Film Festival could be renamed the Richard Linklater Film Festival, for this year at least.
The college-baseball-themed Everybody Wants Some !!, the Austin-based director’s spiritual successor to his classic Texas-set comedy Dazed and Confused, had its world premiere at SXSW Friday and and was the fest’s big opening night film.
Linklater is also the subject of a documentary, Richard Linklater: Dream Is A Destiny, co-directed by SXSW co-founder Louis Black that was set to screen Saturday. On top of that, Linklater was set to lead a Saturday panel as part of SXSW Sports -- a three-day subset of the larger SXSW music, film and interactive festival -- called In the Dugout: The Team from Everybody Wants Some.
It’s fitting that SXSW should turn itself over to Linklater as the two have a symbiotic relationship with each other and the city of Austin. The SXSW Music Festival is celebrating its 30th year and Linklater made his first feature in 1988. His breakthrough cult hit, Slacker, hit screens in 1991 while the film festival was launched in 1994. Since then, the festival, Linklater’s career and the city of Austin have grown exponentially, while remaining linked to each other in the wider world’s eyes.
Linklater’s last film, the much ballyhooed Boyhood, screened to a packed Paramount two years ago.
The Linklater love was evident Friday as Black introduced the film to an enthusiastic, capacity hometown crowd at the 1200-capacity Paramount Theater downtown. He reminisced about the early days of the festival and how some ridiculed the early programming for being made up of small, unknown films that didn’t have traction. “We weren’t interested in traction,” he said. “We liked showing movies.”
He then called Linklater our “hometown hero” and said “this entire event is a consequence of Richard.”
The director then came out and also brought out much of the Everybody Wants Some !!’s young, largely unknown cast. They also came out after the screening for a Q&A.
The film, set inside a fictional college baseball team’s “frat house” in 1980, echoes the ensemble energy of the Dazed and Confused, the 1993 film that launched the career of Matthew McConaughey. There’s the same beery bonhomie as well as a fantastic soundtrack that sprawls over disco, new wave and pop metal. Included are The Knack’s My Sharona, The Sugar Hill Gang’s Rapper’s Delight, and, of course, Van Halen’s Everybody Wants Some!!
The movie is semi-autobiographical as Linklater did play college baseball. “Almost everything in this movie really happened,” he said.
Judging from early reviews, Everybody Wants Some!! will follow in Dazed and Confused’s successful footsteps. Justin Chang in Variety Saturday enthused, “After the dramatic one-two punch of Before Midnight and Boyhood, a master of the modern hangout movie achieves his most sustained comic bliss-out in years with Everybody Wants Some!!
The film opens theatrically April 1.