Everything Must Go
Everything Must Go is a drama adapted from a short story that was directed by Dan Rush, his first feature film. The film generated mixed reviews after premiering at the Toronto International Film Festival last year. The synopsis of a man losing his job and a wife who throws all of his possessions across their lawn sounds like a setup for a comedy, especially when that man is Will Ferrell, but the film sticks to a more serious tone.
Nick Halsey (Will Ferrell) is an alcoholic sales representative who just got fired from his job. But his problems do not end right there. When he arrives home, after making a stop for alcohol of course, he finds that all of his possessions are out on the front lawn of his home. Attached to the front door is a note from his wife that explains their relationship is over. The spare key that is normally hidden under the plant was removed and the locks on the door have been changed.
Having nowhere else to sleep Nick decides to sleep in a chair of his on the front lawn. Apparently sleeping in his car was an afterthought. Upon waking up from water sprinklers he notices a woman across the street moving in. He greets her and explains to her the reason that all of his stuff on his lawn is because he is having a yard sale. He asks her if she would watch his stuff so he could go to the store but she is not able to. So he gets a neighborhood kid to watch his stuff while he goes to the liquor store to get more alcohol.
Not being able to find his keys to the car, he borrows the kid’s bike. It is at the store that he discovers that his wife has cancelled the joint checking account. Luckily for him, he still has cash for his purchase. On the bike ride home he runs into a person repossessing his car. We still have not seen his wife at this point (and we never do) but from the note we know she left him because of his drinking problem and also because he cheated on her.
Nick is not very determined to do anything but sit around and drink beer on his lawn. A neighbor ends up calling the cops on him but Nick is in luck because his AA sponsor is a detective. He pushes Nick into packing his things up otherwise he will have to arrest him. The detective helps him out by telling him that he can hold a yard sale for 5 days to buy some time. So turns out he is going to have that yard sale after all.
There is a pivotal scene in the film is when Nick is preaching about fighting back when times are tough, it is then that he realizes that he is not fighting back right now in his life. It becomes apparent to Nick that he is currently following his drunken father’s footsteps when he watches an old childhood video where his father is drinking. You get the sense that Nick is a good person deep down and really does want to do something with his life now.
Many feel like this is Will Ferrell’s first true dramatic role considering Stranger Than Fiction was more of a dramedy than anything. It must be refreshing for him to do such a different role than what he is used to playing. Ferrell is surprisingly good at playing a low key average-man and he even makes it look natural.
Everything Must Go had opportunities to be very cliché but it managed to avoid most of them thus making it a little more enjoyable than your average film. The film is depressing from the very beginning and does not budge too much from being a downer but that by no means is a bad thing. It tackles a dark subject of alcoholism and captures it well. Not losing hope is the theme of the film and I would reiterate that for people watching it as it does tend to get better after the halfway point.