Dir: Dan Rush
Will Ferrell may have become famous, and indeed rich, as a comedic actor, but in that part of his career he has lately seemed lazy, bored, and disengaged. This is only his second straight dramatic role, and like Stranger Than Fiction, it demonstrates that, despite his larger than life persona, Ferrell is an interesting and subtle dramatic actor when given the chance.
Here he plays Nick Halsey, a salesman whose troubles all pile up on a single day; he's fired from his job because of his alcoholism and his wife (who we never see) has left him. On top of that, all the locks at his home have been changed, and all his possessions left out on the lawn. Nick ends up living on the lawn, drinking. With the help of a local kid (CJ Wallace) Nick has a yard sale, largely so he can remain on his lawn for five days. He also begins to strike up a tentative friendship with a new neighbour (Hall).
There are some strong performances in Everything Must Go, notably Ferrell’s. He’s credible as a man who, for most of the film’s running time, is right on the verge of a nervous breakdown. He’s especially strong in a scene in which he imparts what he sees as some home truths to Rebecca Hall (as a young, pregnant, woman whose husband has not yet joined her in their cross country move) and in the one scene he shares with Laura Dern (who is, as ever, a ray of sunshine) as an old high school acquaintance. There is also another good performance from Christopher CJ Wallace, who made his debut playing his father, the Notorious BIG, in last year’s Notorious and is good here in a role that is very different.
The issue with Everything Must Go is that it feels very obvious; it’s just a standard issue dramedy. You’ll know where the characters will end up, and most of the beats they’ll go through to get there, early on. Dan Rush directs serviceably, but there’s nothing very individual here, nothing that stamps an identity on the film. At the end of the day Everything Must Go is probably worth seeing for its cast, but as a whole it’s all just a little over familiar.