Everything Must Go Review
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It’s often said that you should stick to what you know. Find what you do best, and just keep doing it. But comedic actors rarely take that advice. At some point in their career, they decide that it’s time to take on a serious role. Often, the results are pretty disastrous—but, every once in a while, someone gets it right—like Will Ferrell in Everything Must Go.

Based on Raymond Carver’s short story “Why Don’t You Dance,” Everything Must Go is the story of a man who hits rock bottom—and decides to hang out there for a while. Ferrell stars as Nick Halsey, a struggling alcoholic whose latest relapse has just cost him his job. Angry and depressed, he returns home, only to find all of his possessions out on the lawn. His wife has thrown him out…and changed the locks…and canceled all of his credit cards.

With his remaining cash, Nick buys some beer and takes a seat in his favorite chair, perfectly content to drink himself into oblivion in his front yard. But, eventually, with some help from a lonely kid (Christopher Jordan Wallace—son of Notorious BIG) and an equally lonely new neighbor (Rebecca Hall), he begins to move on with his life.

In a simple movie like this one, it would be all too easy for any actor—even one who’s used to doing drama—to fail miserably. Like his character, who’s forced to live his life in the open, where all of his neighbors can witness his downfall, Ferrell has nowhere to hide. No massive set pieces or eye-popping effects to distract the audience. No big ensemble cast to pick up some of the slack. It’s a gutsy move—one that reminds me of Ben Stiller’s dramatic turn in 2010’s Greenberg. But, unlike Stiller, Ferrell actually pulls it off.

Seeing Will Ferrell in a dramatic role definitely takes a little getting used to—and you’ll most likely find yourself waiting for him to do something completely insane. After all, if this where any other movie, he’d end up stripping down to his underwear, running down the street, and screaming at the top of his lungs. But this isn’t that kind of movie. The character maintains just a hint of Ferrell’s usual boyish charm—and his behavior is often pretty far from mature—but Nick is more honest, more real than the typical Will Ferrell character. Still, though he’s made a complete mess of his life—and the lives of those who care about him—there’s something about him that you can’t help but like anyway (again, unlike Stiller’s character in Greenberg). Or, if nothing else, you’ll hope that he’ll eventually wake up and turn his life around.

Apart from Ferrell’s noteworthy performance, though, there’s not much to Everything Must Go. The characters (especially Ferrell’s Nick and Wallace’s Kenny) are generally likable but not particularly vibrant or memorable (and Laura Dern’s Delilah is sadly underused). And although the film does have some lighter moments (as well as just a hint of hope in the end), the overall tone is surprisingly heavy—and even downright depressing. So although Ferrell’s captivating dramatic performance makes the film worth a look, be warned that it’s guaranteed to leave you in a pretty serious funk for the rest of the day.

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