Everything Must Go
Written and directed by Dan Rush
Starring Will Ferrell, Rebecca Hall, Christopher Jordan Wallace
In “Everything Must Go,” Will Ferrell plays Nick Halsey, a relapsed alcoholic who loses his job, then comes home to find his wife gone and his belongings strewn across the front yard.
Bereft of a job, house and spouse, he settles into a drunken funk and arranges his
al fresco belongings into a sad, makeshift pad. In this vulnerable state, he befriends a neighbor (Rebecca Hall) as well as a chubby loner kid from down the street (Christopher Jordan Wallace).
Comedy actors deserve a chance to prove their dramatic chops, but when their comedy shtick relies so heavily on keeping a straight face — as is the case with Ferrell — it’s hard to take that straight face seriously in a non-comedic context. Despondent and deadpan may be in the same family of facial expressions, but that doesn’t automatically make Ferrell — one of the best deadpanners in the biz — a convincing sad person.
In Ferrell’s defense, the story isn’t exactly meaty. While you sympathize with Nick, whose alcoholism has led him down some dark paths, the story feels hollow beneath a patina of profundity. To put it more pointedly, the story is too twee and feel-good to persuade you that Nick has undergone a harrowing emotional journey. When he finally decides to sell all his belongings in a yard sale, the moment is decidedly un-carthartic.
Ferrell nails some poignant moments, especially when he visits a high school acquaintance (Laura Dern) in search of … a fling? A shared memory? A kind word for the man he used to be? Mostly, though, “Everything Must Go” barely leaves an impression.