Title: Everything Must Go
Director: Dan Rush
Starring: Will Ferrell, Rebecca Hall, Christopher Jordan Wallace, Michael Pena, Stephen Root
“Everything Must Go” survives on intrigue. And this statement isn’t just reserved for the story. The said intrigue, becomes more vast, as audiences will see Will Ferrell step away from the gags and shoot straight from the heart. A blunt heart.
At one point in a comedian’s career, they feel the need to go “serious.” Jim Carrey and Adam Sandler gave this a shot and for the most part it worked out. The same can now be said for Ferrell.
Nick Halsey (Will Ferrell) is a “textbook” salesman who delivers results for his corporation. Although he does his job duties by the book, his outside vices – mainly drinking – end up putting him in hot water with his boss Gary (Glenn Howerton). His battle with alcoholism has been sporadic over the years. Yet the recent slip-up leaves Gary no choice, for he has to let his superstar employee go. This same slip-up also has Nick dropping his sober routine and indulging in case after case of Pabst Blue Ribbon (classy). When he arrives home, he finds all of his belongings on the front lawn, with a “love note” from his wife. Basically saying, it’s over. The locks have been changed, his accounts have been frozen and his company car has been repossessed. What a day.
With nowhere to go, he decides to make camp in his front yard and begins to slowly maintain a steady buzz. This leads his new neighbor Samantha (Rebecca Hall) checking in to see what the deal is, as she impatiently waits for her husband to return from his extensive business travels. Also taking an interest in Nick, is a local neighborhood kid named Kenny (Christopher Joseph Wallace). Nick and Kenny form a quasi-partnership as he enlists the anti-social youngster to sell some of his possessions in a make shift yard sale. Which was a suggestion by his detective friend and AA sponsor Frank (Michael Pena), to avoid getting tossed in jail. Having just five days left before the city ordinance gets enforced, Nick spends his days drinking, talking with Kenny and reaching out to his watchful neighbor Samantha; all from his curbside reclining leather chair.
Seeing where this storyline is heading, is what keeps one engaged in this methodically paced tale. Ferrell may have relinquished the physical comedy and sarcastic delivery, but his stoic demeanor and candid dialogue keeps the audience fixated on his every plodding move. And there is a very subtle level of wit littered around the simple dialogue. This deadpan story isn’t going for laughs. Nor is it going for heart. It’s just putting someone in a unique situation and infusing it with an underlying social commentary.
The approach isn’t perfect, and by the time the credits roll, you may say what’s the point? Mainly because this piece seems like an audition platform for Ferrell to show what else he can do. The theme is just supplemental to the performances. Which pretty much rationalizes the injection of Rebecca Hall’s character and his snooty neighbor (Stephen Root). Guess he needed some playmates to keep this tale moving. When the day and night antics of Ferrell meandering around his front lawn begin to drag, all the characters mentioned above drop in for brief chats with the lead. And this is where the substantial dialogue is placed so the viewer could possibly get something out of this.
Overall, if Will Ferrell typically annoys you, then his efforts in “Everything Must Go” may change your tune as he unleashes a new side. The flick is flawed with continuity errors and relies a lot on assumptions with the more-or-less trivial details. But these eventually get answered in final sequences. So perhaps it is more the ordering rather than the continuity that is flawed. Either way, there isn’t a ton of energy flowing through this piece. However, the old adage of, “Slow and steady wins the race” does has some merit here.
Review by Joe Belcastro