Everything Must Go Directed by: Dan Rush Cast: Will Ferrell, Rebecca Hall, Christopher Jordan Wallace Running Time: 1 hr 36 mins Rating: R Release Date: May 13, 2011 (limited)
PLOT: Nick Halsey (Ferrell) relapses with his alcoholism, causing him to lose his wife and his job. He lives on his front lawn and attempts to start over. Based on a short story by Raymond Carver.
WHO'S IT FOR? If you are desperate to see a serious/sad side of Ferrell.
It's not a comedy. I repeat. It's not a comedy. The reason I just state this is because Ferrell has not made the Tom Hanks leap. He hasn't left the funny/wacky man behind. Here's how you know; When you picture Hank's face, nothing happens. When you see Ferrell's, you start to chuckle.
Now that we have that clarified, this is the story of Nick and how his life as a functioning alcoholic is about to have more problems. First he loses the job, then the wife, house, car, credit cards ... all money. Suddenly, he's living on the lawn. Most films normally don't push a guy down this much. Either that, or they give him a way out. Like they make him a surprisingly gifted gardener and he discovers this while living on his front yard. No such luck here. Nick is sucking on his PBR with a desperate need. He also has a neighbor boy named Kenny (Wallace) willing to help because he has nothing better to do, and a new neighbor, Samantha (Hall) who is pregnant. His AA sponsor is a cop (Michael Peña) who buys him some time living in the front yard. It's tough to figure out Nick's motivations beyond the drinking, because he really doesn't have any.
Taking and tackling this role is great for Ferrell. He has room to explore something new, but the problem for me is this feels like familiar territory done differently. Ferrell has used drugs and alcohol in almost all of his comedies (like Old School, Anchorman) for laughs. But now, he's saying, "No, no, take me seriously!" The slightly funny moments tend to stand out in this drama more than any of the emotional stuff. Nick and Kenny hang out and share "Your Momma" jokes, plus Kenny being excited about a sales book is just amusing to watch a kid go through those thoughts. Since there isn't a lot of things happening, the missteps stand out. Nick suddenly has a phone, but it's not explained right away how. A baseball is suddenly out of its special case. He's sitting on a killer vinyl collection, but the classic songs never feel like a focus for the film. Also, lost in the shuffle are Stephen Root and Glenn Howerton. Laura Dern shows up and adds some weight.
For how difficult Nick's life has become, the solutions seem to simple. Put down the PBR, don't buy more. The best part is that he's a functioning alcoholic. We only see the worst (or funniest) alcoholics in film, not the ones who are hurting themselves but not that much. It's a quiet film, with an actor you expect to be loud.
FINAL SCORE: 5/10