Notable Cast: Will Ferrell, Rebecca Hall, Laura Dern, Michael Peña, Stephen Root, Glenn Howerton, Christopher Jordon Wallace
Review: I have to admit, I get excited when Will Ferrell decides to take a more serious role. Always he plays the moronic over the top character, which of course I can’t deny he’s also fantastic at, but he’s widely under appreciated for his “out of character” roles. I look to Stranger Than Fiction which although was a comedy, brought out a much more serious and dramatic side in Ferrell. Well, actually, I guess it was pretty much just Stranger Than Fiction that showed me Ferrell was capable of bringing more than wildly outrageous off the cuff comments, but it was enough. Everything Must Go looked to be in the vein of Stranger Than Fiction, having meaningful indie undertones hiding under the base of the film. But actually, there wasn’t much comedy to be found at all, and the independent feel of the film is too ambitious to fully enjoy. The previews for Ferrell’s newest looked to be a light-hearted take on the worst day of a middle-aged man’s life, but the advertising hides the depressing alcoholic lifestyle and hopeless attitude Ferrell’s character bombards you with.
In Everything Must Go, Nick Halsey is having the worst day of his life. All in one fell swoop his entire life crumbles before his eyes. First, his boss Gary (Howerton) fires him for actions that went on during a client meeting in Denver. Then, he arrives home to find all his belongings scattered on the lawn, locked doors, and a note saying his wife has left him for good. To put the icing on the cake, Nick reverts back to his alcoholic ways, destroying his sobriety streak. Can you blame the man though? With nowhere to go, Nick sets up camp in his front lawn as he starts re-living memories from each item. But all the junk represents the old Nick. He starts wanting to keep everything and just move away, paying a local boy named Kenny (Wallace) to watch his stuff. He also forms a relationship with his new pregnant neighbor Samantha (Hall) awaiting the return of her husband, who gives him some company during his time of need. After a period of boozing and self degradation, he realizes the only way to move on is to start over anew. Nick employs Kenny as his salesman and decides to have a massive yard sale, realizing once and for all that EVERYTHING MUST GO! (Had to)
Why don’t more people do this? Relaxing in the sun on a comfy chair with a brew?
I’ll say right off the bat Will Ferrell was just as fantastic as I believed he would be. His character was a depressed alcoholic with no hope or luck for that matter. Ferrell really delves into the lifeless nature of Nick Halsey, and brings depth to a character that does nothing but drink and be miserable. The character was actually very straight forward, but Ferrell really embodied it. With that said though, you have to understand he is not meant to be funny. So many people will blindly go into this and want to see the usual Ferrell. The previews even painted this with an independent light that has the potential to turn the worst of events into comedy. Well, it doesn’t. Everything Must Go seems hell-bent on barraging us with increasingly sad and depressing events and shitting all over the character of Nick Halsey, until the movie just ends. What the previews hide is the theme of alcoholism that is actually a focal point of Nick’s character, not just turning to alcohol in a comical matter that you expect. No, Everything Must Go deals with the harsh realities of alcoholism and hard struggles that people deal with, which was well portrayed by the script and Ferrell’s characterization of Nick Halsey. But did you really want it to be?
But the hardest part about watching Everything Must Go is how anti-uplifting it is. I wasn’t kidding when I said all the script wants to do is see how many horrible things can happen to their main character in one movie. Most are predictable, but you never get a true feeling of redemption in Nick’s life except for **SPOILER** (highlight to read) him becoming sober again, but for how long? You’re supposed to feel good about the relationships he develops with the young boy Kenny, his pregnant neighbor, and even an old high school admirer whose number her comes across. But nothing substantial enough happens to really change your feelings about Nick. This is the one time I feel like getting a little Hollywood on the audience would have been a nice fit, and the independent feel was worked on too hard. I left the theater with the feeling that nothing much happened at all, except we watched a character get metaphorically torn limb from limb, only to pick himself up in the smallest way possible. I was left wanting so much more for the story and execution; not one sucker punch after the next.
Did I like Everything Must Go? Meh. Did I hate Everything Must Go? Meh. It was a big steaming pile of “Meh.” Ferrell did a fantastic job with the character he had, really acting out just how, well, flawed Nick Halsey was. But at the same time, you didn’t really like Nick Halsey. You wanted him to lash out and have some big revelation, but instead you get him pretty much saying “Eh, I guess I’m OK, a little bit, I guess.” Michael Peña played an obvious but crucial character, and Rebecca Hall again played an obvious but crucial character, but no one could top Ferrell and the young Christopher’s chemistry. In the end though, you be left with a sense of “Wow, that movie came out of nowhere,” which can be taken in a good or a bad way. I, myself, wasn’t particularly pleased with the outcome, but it was independent for a reason. Those really in the mood for a downer film, look no further. There were aspects I loved about Everything Must Go, but in the end just feels like mediocrity and soul-searching is pushed on us, just to be different.
Final Rating: 6.5 swift kicks to Nick Halsey’s crotch out of 10
Hehe, Everything Must Go…Get it?! Get it?!