There is nothing funny about an alcoholic that loses his job, wife and dignity because of his drinking problem. Even if that person is Will Ferrell. In the context of Everything Must Go, that’s a good thing.
Ferrell throws us a curve ball in his new film that is far from a comedy and more like a dramatic unfolding of a sad life.
Nick Halsey (Ferrell) in one day is fired from his job and come home to find his wife has emptied his possessions onto their front lawn and changed the locks. Unsure what to do, Nick passively guards his stuff by planting himself outdoors in a recliner on said lawn. He also commences with filling the recycle bin with his empties of PBR, giving us a good idea of what a functional alcoholic does.
Kenny, a neighborhood kid befriends Nick in exchange for his salesmanship knowledge as they partner up for a big yard sale. Their relationship is genuine and well handled. From his front lawn seat, Nick also dysfunctionally befriends with his new neighbor Samantha (Rebecca Hall.) Both Nick and Samatha’s problems are living right below the surface, which gave them a realistic feeling.
There are shining moments of humanity in this film. Only having known Nick for a few days, Samantha comes to the aid of Nick’s withdrawal symptoms in a comforting, but non-judgmental way. I guess it’s a little sad that I though getting this close to somebody you hardly knew was a stretch.
I do enjoy it when a performer can transform themself on screen. With Ferrell, you always expect some comedy with darkness around the edges. Everything Must Go dives a little deeper than his more serious tone in “Stranger Than Fiction." It’s rare for a comic actor to be able to pull it off so well. Adam Sandler did a great job in “Punch Drunk Love.” Jim Carrey did it in “Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind.”
This film isn’t perfect, but it does add to the argument that Ferrell has range. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Look closely at the closing scene. It’s hard not to think of the cover art on The Eagles’ “The Hotel California.” I guess in some ways Nick feels that he could check out any time he likes, but can never leave himself.
Bonus musical reference. Kenny, the neighborhood kid is played by Christopher Jordan Wallace. He played his real life father Christopher Wallace (aka Notorious B.I.G.) as a child in the film about the rapper “Notorious.”