Everything Must Go Review
by Bret Dorman
For some reason everyone seems to hate Will Ferrell. They loved him on SNL. They loved him in Anchorman. They loved him in Old School. Then something happened (Talladega Nights? Semi-Pro? Land of the Lost?) and people turned against him. Now maybe its because I’m not actively seeking out his movies (didn’t see the last two I mentioned above) but I still think he’s pretty great. I love his willingness to use his celbrity to do crazy things, like getting Funny or Die started or appearing on Conan to shave his beard. The only thing is, for better or worse, Everything Must Go is not a ‘Will Ferrell’ movie. Its just a movie with him in it.
The Story: Will Ferrell gets fired and kicked out of his house. All his stuff is on the lawn. So he decides to live on his lawn and maybe sell a thing… or two. Also he becomes friends with a black kid.
So the big question for Everything Must Go is what is it? Drama or Comedy? Well why can’t it be both? Let’s invent a word for it right now…….. Dramedy. I just invented that. All on my own. Its never existed before. Don’t look it up. Okay. Perfect. Everything Must Go is a Dramedy. Sometimes funny. Sometimes dramatic. Sometimes both at the same time.
Most of the comedy comes in the form of the grounded absurdity of the story. Coming home to find all your stuff out on the lawn and not only accepting it but sort of embracing it. Most of the drama comes in the form off Will Ferrell’s alcoholism and how it affects/worsens his situation and relationships.
The movie deal with alcoholism in a pretty accurate way. The more the character drinks the more he accepts his situation and the more he decides to change. Frustratingly though, for the character and the viewer, as he sobers up he always falls back to alcohol and makes things worse. The most frustrating part of this is that the movie never looses its ‘uplifting’ and ‘heartflet’ message and its never ‘fun’ to watch Ferrell as he hits his lows (unlike, say, watching Larry David in Curb Your Enthusiasm in any one of his many awkward situations).
The movie is determined to show you these lows so that the climb to success is greater. But that’s not to say we can’t have a little fun along the way.
Will Ferrell is great in this role. Director (not of this movie) Michael Mann said in his commentary for Collateral that the reason some comedians transition so well to dramatic acting is that big part of it is timing. Ferrell shows maturity and doesn’t always go for the ‘cheap laugh’ by yelling loud or acting goofy. He let’s each moment sink in and sometimes is at his best in the silences of the movie.
Christopher Jordan Wallace plays a young neighborhood kid who befriends Will Ferrell. The relationship is beneficial to both, as they both could use a friend not to critique or judge them, but just to listen to them. Wallace is not only a great physical compliment to Ferell,, but also a great silent one. He shows just as much maturity as Ferrell on screen by letting silences have their moments and making his lines count. I guess it should also be noted that he is Notorious B.I.G.’s son in real life. So there’s that too.
Rebecca Hall plays a female on-love interest to sort of help out Ferrell and give him a reality check or tow. She doesn’t have much time on screen and when she does her natural beauty and comfort shine through.
I guess the point is this is a very quiet movie, with plenty of opportunity for laughs (although my audience didn’t, at all, I don’t know if they didn’t know it was okay to laugh or just didn’t think it was funny). There’s one moment where Ferrell and Wallace are discussing soccer and their exchange had me cracking up. But for the most part its the silences and somber tone of that dominate this movie.
In fact, if this movie were a little more daring or innovative visually I would go so far as to say its great. I understand that wit ha minimal cast and probably crew and budget you don’t want to overdo things (wouldn’t fit well with the tone of the movie either) but as it is now its just an entertaining little indie flick when it could be something to watch and learn from.
In Conclusion, for knowing absolutely nothing about this movie other than the title and that Will Ferrell wsa in it, Everything Must Go was a pleasant, quiet little surprise that is a great relaxing alternative to the fast paced heavy CGI FIlled summer Blockbuster that be saturating theaters every week.
Final Grade: B+