Director: Dan Rush
Writers: Dan Rush, Raymond Carver (short story "Why Can't You Dance")
Stars: Will Ferrell, Rebecca Hall, Christopher Jordan Wallace, Laura Dern, Michael Peña, Stephen Root
SYNOPSIS: When relapsed alcoholic Nick Halsey loses his job and comes home to find himself locked out of his home with all of his belongings on the front lawn, his only choices are to hold a yard sale or to go to jail.
Will Ferrell comes to the screen, not as an anchorman in Seattle or a stock car driver in Talladega, but as an alcoholic Regional VP of sales in Arizona who loses his job minutes after he finishes a motivational speech to the members of the organization. After a bad choice after he leaves the office, he comes home to an empty house and all of his personal belongings out on the lawn. Newcomer writer and director Dan Rush takes pages from the short story "Why Don't You Dance" by Raymond Carver and expands it into a feature length film sized story.
For Everything Must Go, Ferrell chooses a role more Stranger Than Fiction than Step Brothers or Semi-Pro. He portrays a range of emotion that most would think unavailable from Ferrell. The same narrow piercing stare that he elicits for comic effect in his other films translates into the hollow, haunted man, Nick Halsey, wrestling with his demons and the loss of everything he worked for in life. Enter the innocence and hopefulness of young Kenny Loftus in the form of Notorious BIG and Faith Evans' son Christopher Jordan Wallace. Curiously drawn to Nick Halsey's property by the array of belongings found there, Kenny is enlisted by Nick to guard his cherished materials so he can run to the mini-mart to buy more beer. Add in Nick's AA sponsor, Detective Frank Garcia (Michael Peña) who protects Nick enough to get him a 5-day permit to legally run a yard sale, new pregnant neighbor Samantha (Rebecca Hall) who takes interest in Nick's antics while she unpacks her house and waits for her husband from the East Coast, and uppity, superior neighbor (Stephen Root) who has secrets of his own, and Dan Rush brings to screen a movie with heart and substance.
Who would expect a well-known comedic actor, the son of a rapper, endless cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon, and a $5 million dramatic film with it's primary set piece taking place on the front lawn in Arizona suburbia to be successful and effective? I would suspect there would be plenty of doubters. But I have in me a new found respect for the man who made me cry with laughter during Elf, and now makes me feel his pain with every heartbreaking sale of material and memories with haggling yard sale pros. Christopher Jordan Wallace, I am sure, will have a bright acting career ahead of him if his honest performance in Everything Must Go is any indication. The most poignant moments of the film include the eventual sale of the leather recliner, the realization of what Nick's belongings represents, and the stolen moments between Nick and his new neighbor, Samantha.
Paced beautifully, clever, heartfelt, and sometimes funny, Everything Must Go delves into the real effects of alcoholism for the drinker and those around him using a simple, yet elegant, story concept. Opened in limited release thus far, Everything Must Go is a hidden film in a handful of theaters, but one worth seeing.
WORTH: Matinee or Netflix