First of all, an apology for this review being so darned late. I have been glued to the edge of my seat because fantasy football is a terrible, terrible thing. I am currently eight yards from Michael Bush away from falling to 1-3 in one of my leagues, and I’m 1-3 in the other. I hate fantasy football so much. I want to watch football games and not root for individual players’ statistics again. Anyway.
This may be the least accessible review I’ve written on this website, because you haven’t seen “Everything Must Go”. How do I know this? Well, because basically no one’s seen “Everything Must Go”. It was released last year – on a paltry budget of $5 million – and it made back a grand total of $2,711,643. In one respect, this is a shame, because “Everything Must Go” comes from a rather brilliant script by Dan Rush. But in all other respects, it’s not much of a shame, because there isn’t much of a reason to see this movie.
The premise of “Everything Must Go” is an inventive one. Nick Halsey (Will Ferrell…yes, seriously, Will Ferrell) is fired from his job because he’s an alcoholic. He returns home to tell his wife, but it’s too late. She’s left the house, changed the locks and moved all of his things out onto the front lawn. To make matters worse, Nick has his bank account frozen, he has to return his company car, his credit cards no longer work and his wife won’t answer any of his phone calls. Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?
Nick decides to proceed by…well, doing nothing. He hangs out and sleeps on his lawn, deciding not to break into his house. In the process, Nick bonds with his new pregnant neighbor Samantha (the lovely Rebecca Hall) and 12-year-old Kenny (C.J. Wallace, the son of Notorious B.I.G.). There are some life lessons involved in these relationships, but they don’t change Nick to the point of being Life Lessons with a capital L, so that’s nice. Michael Pena, as a cop who was Nick’s AA sponsor, and Laura Dern, as an old classmate of Nick are also involved, to varying degrees of success.
Is it realistic that Nick would take a stand by, essentially, taking a sit? It’s not too likely – you’d think he would try to find some friend or family in the area. But most of his options are cut off, and Nick doesn’t want to try that hard. He fulfills the “alcoholic” part of his character by sitting on the lawn and drinking cases of Pabst Blue Ribbon all day. (A wonderful bit of sponsorship for PBR, I might add.) It’s not until he spends time with Kenny and Samantha that he changes his attitude and begins to get his things – quite literally – in order.
Ultimately, “Everything Must Go” suffers for a few reasons. I read the script online a few years ago and thought it was terrific. The words on the screen haven’t changed much, but watching the story actually unfold on screen seriously changes things. This just isn’t a very active movie – there’s a lot of sitting around and very little action. It’s the exact opposite of any conversation had in The West Wing. It’s rather boring to watch, even if there are some good lines and themes.
And the central actor doesn’t help. I will always love Ferrell, who is an absolutely amazing comedic genius, but he’s just average here. It’s tough to sympathize with the character of Nick, as Ferrell relies on the same facial expressions and line deliveries time after time. It’s not nearly as convincing of a performance as I hoped I’d see from him. The other actors are generally fine, but again, it’s a passive script. I was never as invested in the characters or in the story as I should have been.
Rush, who also directed the movie, doesn’t do much to endear himself, either. It’s a story that doesn’t have much of a voice on screen, and there aren’t any directorial choices to change that. It all comes off as bland.
“Everything Must Go” had a huge amount of potential – but outside of the basic script, it just flounders. There’s nothing else above average here, and that’s too bad.
…AND I JUST WON BY .7 POINTS IN FANTASY FOOTBALL. HAVE SOME.
(Wait. I just typed “have some” at the exact same time, without intent, that Stuart Scott said “HAVE SOME” on SportsCenter. Oh, my, goodness.)