Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Opens locally Friday, May 13th, 2011
Run Time: 1 hour 37 minutes, Rated R
Starring: Will Ferrell, Christopher Jordan Wallace, Rebecca Hall, Michael Pena
Directed by Dan Rush (directorial debut)
No it’s not a typo…”Everything Must Go” is a drama starring the comedic superstar Will Ferrell. It’s not a heavy drama, nor is it a crazy image shake-up on the part of Ferrell. Rather, it’s the perfect kind of segue movie if Ferrell were ever to make the Tom Hanks jump from comedian to dramatic actor. It’s also an example of perfect casting, as his character demands a few softer edges and some lighter comedic moments that he obviously handles with ease.
The Plot. Will plays Nick Halsey, who is fired from his job and having a horrible day. When he returns home, he discovers his wife not only left him, but she’s thrown all of his belongings on the front lawn. Nick is an alcoholic in relapse, and he is constantly pounding beers throughout most of the film, and we assume this is the reason for all his troubles. Overcome with depression, he decides to live on his front lawn amongst his possessions, as the local laws allow him a few days to hold a yard sale, before everything must go.
The film is not without it’s flaws, and it becomes obvious that it is under the direction of a first-timer. With that being said though, there is a calm sweetness to how the film and Nick are portrayed. Will Ferrell always plays a likeable, albeit at most times gullible, doofus who seems to never be aware of the absurdity around him. Here, he brings a tender sadness to a man that we instantly feel for. When he befriends a young boy down the street (Wallace), the two form an interesting relationship, filling in the gaping holes in each other’s lives. Across the street, a new woman has moved in and also befriends Nick. It’s not what you think, she has moved in ahead of her husband who will be here next week. Her presence allows the film to explore the difficulties of all relationships, and that the grass is never as green as it seems on the other side of the fence.
Thematically, “Everything Must Go” is a story about alcoholism and dependency, but you ‘d never really know it. We all have “stuff on our lawn” or “skeletons in our closet” that could use a good cleaning up. As Nick and his new friend begin selling off the possessions on the lawn, Nick is slowly coming to terms and letting go of his past. He’s no different than anyone else, it’s just that his baggage is public and visible, whereas yours or mine stays hidden behind walls.
Bottom Line. Those coming in expecting Will Ferrell as we have learned to know and love him will be deeply disappointed. And it’s true, he has been so funny for so long that you may find yourself chuckling at the beginning of the film in areas you realize are not even funny…it’s just habit to laugh after Will delivers a line.
It falls short of being a great movie, and definitely misses the mark with some plot contrivances and conveniences. Ferrell doesn’t give an Oscar worthy performance, but one wasn’t required from the role. What he does do is establish that he has some real dramatic chops, and given the right role he can be an effective dramatic talent. Going in with the right frame of mind, this movie may strike a cord if you can overcome Ferrell’s reputation of silliness.
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