Director: Dan Rush
MPAA Rating: R
Studio: Roadside Attractions
There isn’t much to laugh at in Everything Must Go, the new indie movie starring Will Ferrell as an alcoholic ad executive who loses his job, his childless marriage, his suburban home and his car in short order. His wife having changed all the locks and tossed his belongings on their front lawn, this badly damaged guy basically squats outside sleeping and drinking Pabst in a recliner while surveying the wreckage of his life. Finally, he holds a yard sale with the help of a wary neighborhood latchkey kid (Christopher Jordan Wallace) and strikes up a friendship with a new neighbor, a pregnant ex-New Yorker waiting for her husband to join her (Rebecca Hall). He also briefly and hauntingly looks up a girl he knew in high school (Laura Dern, in a strong cameo) back when he was a happy, popular jock.
Adapted from a Raymond Carver short story by writer-director Dan Rush, Ferrell plays the kind of slipping down, unlikable sad sack that Jack Lemmon might have done brilliantly 30 years ago. But even in his less manic movies like Stranger Than Fiction, Ferrell has never been better. Still managing to generate a laugh or two, he dials it way down, switches off that manic thing in his eyes and plays things clean, straight and desperately lost. It’s a quietly devastating performance in a movie that too often betrays its literary roots and carries next to no momentum. Although we may be intended to think that the guy Ferrell plays has a shot at pulling it together, there is no reason to think his story has anything within spitting distance of a happy ending.
About the Author
Playboy Contributing Editor Stephen Rebello has written many Playboy Interview and 20 Questions features. He is the author of such books as the notorious Bad Movies We Love (with Edward Margulies) and Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho, the latter of which has inspired a dramatic feature film set for production in 2011. His most recent Playboy Interviews include Josh Brolin and Cameron Diaz.