There is a locker room scene in the middle of Everybody Wants Some!!, Richard Linklater’s “spiritual sequel” to Dazed and Confused, where freshman pitcher Jake (Blake Jenner) is tricked into lifting his face into another player’s exposed butt cheeks. Jake has a quick flash of anger at the sophomoric prank and then lobs an insult at one of the perpetrators before then trying to replicate the humiliating trick with one of his teammates as the victim.

This scene is not particularly crucial to the film’s story. Like much of Linklater’s work, Everybody relies more on setting and observational detail than narrative. Nor is it a given that everyone watching it will immediately recall accounts of a recently retired NFL quarterback whose own locker room conduct led to a sexual assault complaint. But for those who do, the film invites us to compare the cultural mores and attitudes of the current moment with those of the not so distant past. The gulf between the amount of approbation we feel towards some behaviors and the relative lack of outrage the society of the time felt is a measure of how quickly our sensibilities change.

Let me be clear, though. It isn’t as though Linklater nostalgically defends the early ’80s. The casual drug use, the objectification of women (co-ed mud wrestling!), and the gratuitous flashes of breasts and buttocks are no more cheerfully celebrated than prudishly censured. To the extent the film anticipates an emotional response from our (perhaps) more politically correct culture, it shrugs rather than bristles. This is who we were, it says. This is what we did.

Had Everybody Wants Some!! arrived at a different cultural moment, its unwillingness to censure the lax ...

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