Everything Must Go Review

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Score

Almost worth it for Ferrell’s deadpan portrayal of a life gone sour.

Will Ferrell’s salesman who 'sells salesmanship' is unceremoniously sacked from his job in the opening minutes of Everything Must Go, based on a short story by Raymond Carver. Upon arriving home, he discovers his wife has left him, changed the locks, frozen their joint accounts and dumped his possessions on the front lawn. But the economy isn’t to blame for his plight. Instead, it's a longstanding problem with alcohol.

From Jim Carrey to Steve Carell, almost every modern Hollywood funnyman has chosen to show-off his dramatic chops in an indie comedy. But one would be hard-pressed to find such an outing with fewer laughs on offer than Everything Must Go. It’s not that the story of Ferrell’s depressed, garden-dwelling drinker misses the mark, rather that first-time director Dan Rush doesn’t appear to have set out to make a comedy in the first place.

The tale of misery is somewhat tempered by the warm glow of Arizona sun, a gentle folky score and the occasional poignant moment. Most of these come from a remarkably restrained portrayal of an alcoholic, who, through a combination of denial and belligerence chooses to arrange his belongings into something resembling a living room on his lawn. He makes the pretence of holding a yard sale, but his only real focus is getting through the next six pack of beer.

The interactions that living in one’s garden on a suburban street inevitably lead to are intended to form the emotional heart of the movie. Rebecca Hall is reliably engaging as his pregnant but crestfallen neighbour, as is Christopher Jordan Wallace’s neglected yet warm-hearted black adolescent. As the severity of his predicament begins to dawn on them, they duly open up to him, however the relationships feel forced and even slightly unsettling.

Everything Must Go overdelivers strong performances and relevant, contemporary themes, not just about alcoholism, but the diminished circumstances in which so many find themselves living today. But it clearly lacks the confidence required to deal with the subject matter comedically. This doesn’t just make it unforgivably light on laughs, but leaves the entire drama feeling unbalanced.

Anticipation

Following-up a decent, if forgettable, dramatic turn in Stranger Than Fiction.

2

Enjoyment

Like a bad date; it’s attractive, clever, but lacks a sense of humour.

2

In Retrospect

Almost worth it for Ferrell’s deadpan portrayal of a life gone sour.

2
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View 2 comments

Anton Bitel

3 years ago
"an indie comedy. But one would be hard-pressed to find such an outing with fewer laughs on offer"
"Dan Rush doesn’t appear to have set out to make a comedy in the first place."
"it clearly lacks the confidence required to deal with the subject matter comedically."
"unforgivably light on laughs"
"lacks a sense of humour."
I haven't seen Everything Must Go, but judging by what you say in this review, it sounds as though you might have regarded it in a very different light if you had just accepted that your initial Ferrell-fuelled expectations were mistaken, and that the film is indeed - simply - not a comedy (and so does not actually need to be funny).

mattg

3 years ago
I have seen it and really liked it – as a low-key drama with a few rueful laughs. Old School it is not
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