Everything Must Go * * *

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Director: Dan Rush.
Screenplay: Dan Rush.
Starring: Will Ferrell, Rebecca Hall, Michael Peña, Christopher Jordan Wallace, Laura Dern, Stephen Root, Glenn Howerton.

Anyone that’s been reading my reviews for any length of time will be aware of my dislike for the humour of Will Ferrell. Don’t get wrong, I’ve enjoyed some films of his: “Stranger Than Fiction” and “Elf” are a couple but for the most part his humour just doesn’t work for me. Thankfully, this is Ferrell minus his funny bone and as he plays it straight, he delivers some impressive work.

Nick Halsey (Will Ferrell) is fired from his sales job for his reliance on alcohol. When he returns home, he finds that his wife has left him, locked him out of the house and left all his belongings on the front lawn. He refuses to accept this though and decides to camp out in his chair and drink beer for days on end. As this is not legal, his cop friend and AA sponsor (Michael Peña) suggests that he pretends to be having a yard sale to buy him some time. Not before long, Nick starts to makes friends with the neighbours who help him sell his stuff.

The problem with this film isn’t Ferrell as I’d expected it to be. The problem with this film is that the material doesn’t stretch far enough. It’s based on the short story “Why Don’t You Dance?” by Raymond Carver who was responsible for the serious of vignettes that made up Robert Altman’s magnificent film “Short Cuts“. Where Altman got it right though, was in keeping all the segments little tales of their own and never fleshed them out too far. This had been a short story for a reason; there just isn’t enough material to cover the ground of a 90 minute feature – and it’s shows. Despite a series of very good moments and the struggle and believable, emotional downfall of the protagonist, it has a series of lulls which just feel like padding. As a result the dramatic weight is lessened and your concentration begins to waver. That being said, there is still plenty to admire here and that mainly comes in the form of Ferrell, who flexes his acting chops in a more serious role than audiences will be used to. I’m not normally a fan of his brand of comedy but as a dramatic actor he’s actually quite good. Unfortunately, for him though, the whole film rests on his shoulders; most of the other characters are secondary with Laura Dern, particularly wasted, in a thankless bit-part. However, the theme of a downward spiralling individual forced to confront his past – and his addictive problems – is reflected well, in the coveting of material objects and their relevance to a person as a whole.

More of a tragi-comedy with the emphasis on the former. It has serious moments of lethargy but worth watching for it’s metaphoric approach to life and to see Ferrell command the screen with depth, in a rare dramatic role.

Mark Walker

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23 Responses to “Everything Must Go * * *”

  1. Nice! I have read the Carver story and was surprised they were going to try and make a feature film out of it. I’m sure I will never see this because I can’t stand Ferrell, so I’ll just carry on knowing that you wrote about it : )

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  2. Victor De Leon Says:

    I like Will and the fact that he tries his hand at some drama has me curious. Good write up, Mark. I may check this one out. Thanks!

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  3. In case youre expecting me to rush to Ferrell’s aid, here, I havent seen this one buddy. 😉

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  4. Good review Mark. It’s great to see Ferrell in such a subtle, calm role that really shows him for the actor that he can be. Not a perfect movie, by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s a simple, heartfelt piece of work that deserved more notice than it really got back in the day.

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    • Thanks Dan. I have to put my hands up with Ferrell here. I normally can’t go him but he was fantastic in this. It’s not a great movie but it’s not a poor one either. I kinda feel a little unkind with my rating but eventually I did wander and lose interest and 3 stars is still a reasonably good rating anyway.

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  5. As you know, I love Ferrell. I have seen this and its not my favourite……possibly the only Ferrell film I switched off. I just couldnt get into it. Maybe the total opposite as you, since you actually liked him for a change, I was expecting something more outrageous. I do like his more serious side in other bits he has done, but I just didnt get this. Nice write up as always Mark

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    • Thanks bro. Yeah, it wasn’t a great film but Ferrell was really good I found. Quite subtle and he showed a bit of depth. I’d like to see him do more serious roles, there’s quite a lot of comedians who manage it well.

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  6. daveackackattack Says:

    Thought this movie was just OK. I could take or leave Farrell. Him, Galifinakas, Sandler, Russell Brand, and a few other guys do the a kind of cocky, loud, forced, over the top, “look at me” comedy that doesn’t work most of the time. The SNL group is especially egregious of this. Luckilly Vaughn, Stiller, Black fare tend to be more hit than miss. Chris Farley like John Belushi was probably the best at it because you could empathise with him. Plus he had Spade alongside him just like Belushi had Ackroyd.

    The best thing I’ve seen Farrell in was a small movie called Winter Passing where he has a small role.

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  7. Nice review, Mark. Haven’t seen this one but I agree Ferrell is quite good when he steps out of his comfort zone. Stranger than Fiction is a real highlight.

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  8. I’ve been on the fence about watching this movie. Since — like me — you generally don’t enjoy Will Ferrell’s acting, I am encouraged by the fact that you think he did fine work here. I thought Stranger Than Fiction was pretty good. I suspect he’s an actor I’ll find a lot more tolerable when he’s not doing comedy. I feel the same way about Jim Carrey.

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    • Ferrell does do fine work here and I’m normally very critical of him. His brand of humour doesn’t cut it for me but as a serious actor, he’s reliable. This was the biggest positive I took from this film. Don’t get me wrong, the premise was excellent but the director tried too hard to flesh it out when it would have worked much better without the padding. It’s a great story in general and unfortunate that a rare dramatic Ferrell performance has been overlooked.

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  9. Great review – I didn’t realize it was based off a short story – it makes a lot more sense now as to why it felt like it went on so much longer than it should’ve. I like Ferrell’s older comedic stuff but I like him best when he plays serious.

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