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September 6, 2011

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DVD of the Week – Review of Everything Must Go (2011)

by NIR SHALEV

Based on Raymond Carver’s short story “Why Won’t You Dance”, Everything Must Go tells the story of Nick Halsey (Will Ferrell), an alcoholic who recently relapsed. As a result, he loses his long term job and also his marriage; his wife locks him out of his own house, his joint bank account is frozen, his car is seized, etc. This is only the first ten minutes of the film and it may seem grim, but this is an indie film that’s full of wonderful moments that left me smiling. Nevertheless, there are some dark moments too and they’re the best parts of the film.

All of Nick’s belongings are scattered across the front lawn and because he’s broke and lacks a vehicle, he decides to live out there. He settles in his comfortable reclining couch and is awoken every morning by the lawn’s water sprinklers. He makes friends with two neighbors: Kenny (Christopher Jordan Wallace), a slightly overweight, intelligent young boy; and Samantha (Rebecca Hall), a newcomer to the neighborhood whose husband is always out of town.

This is not a film that concerns itself with a labyrinthine plot because it’s entirely character based. The strongest aspect is- here it comes- Will Ferrell’s performance. He makes the drinking believable, as his character drinks all day and all night until he’s completely out of money, and is convincing throughout the entirety of the film. We like Nick and we sympathize with him, even though he deserved everything that’s happened and is happening to him. He’s not suffering from a mid-life crisis and he hadn’t purchased a Ferrari but he lives on his front lawn among all of his belongings and even his sponsor, Detective Frank Garcia (Michael Peña), issues an order that forces Nick to sell all of his property or move away within five days.

The film rides almost entirely on its performances because, for what reason I cannot deduce, it chooses to not take risks. If this was to have a higher budget, a more serious tone, and a darker visual style it could have been a great film but instead it’s only really good. I recommend this film mostly because of Ferrell’s performance, proof that comedic actors can be excellent in dramas (more so than the other way around). Adam Sandler did it with Punch-Drunk Love (2002), Jim Carrey with Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004), Robin Williams with Good Morning Vietnam (1987) and What Dreams May Come (1998), and now Will Ferrell proves it with Everything Must Go.

The DVD and Blu-ray come with an Audio Commentary with Director Dan Rush and Actor Michael Peña, a Will Ferrell featurette, a Behind the Scenes Featurette, and Deleted Scenes.

Other new releases this week: Hanna, X-Men: First Class


2 Comments Post a comment
  1. Sep 6 2011

    I’m now regretting even more that I didn’t get to this when it was in theaters. I really enjoyed Ferrell’s more-dramatic-than-comedic performance in “Stranger Than Fiction” (because of my aversion to mainstream Hollywood comedies, one of only two films of his I’ve seen).

    What’s your opinion of “What Dreams May Come” overall? I don’t remember the reviews being especially positive, but haven’t read anything about it since.

  2. Sep 6 2011

    I loved “What Dreams May Come” from the first time that I’ve watched it. It’s true that the reviews were sub par, or just mediocre, but on my first viewing I found it to be an unforgettable and goregous film and upon revisiting it I found it to be remarkably depressing yet profound. I own the DVD and the special effects still astound me. And I still don’t know how they managed to make an entire vista of land look like it’s made of melting water colours…

    On a side note, I mostly disliked Will Farrell as an actor and found him to be talentless because he usually played a man-child (a role that Zack Galifianakis has now inherited) and in mostly terrible films. After Stranger Than Fiction, the best movie that he was in so far, I found that he can be tolerated if in the right hands and with Everything Must Go, I can now claim that Will Farrell is an actual good actor.

    I said the same thing about Jean-Claude van Demme after watching his incredible performance in JCVD. What can I say? These guys can act!

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