Everything Must Go is probably Will Ferrell's first truly well done film in years. The Other Guys was pretty good, Step Brothers was funny in parts, but this one totally takes the cake for being a great drama, and schools anyone who thinks Will Ferrell can't do anything but comedy. Though I doubt fans of Old School will think highly of this.
The plot isn't too much, but it sustains a film. Will Ferrell is Nick Halsey, an alcoholic who has had one too many alcohol-related episodes and has finally lost his job. He returns home to find out his wife has changed all the locks on the house, and has moved all of his belongings to the front yard. Frustrated and hopeless, he decides to life on his front lawn, and make the best out of a horrible situation.
He spends his day sucking down Blue Ribbons beers, until he is met by a chubby adolescent named Kenny (Christopher Jordan Wallace, the son of the late rapper Notorious B.I.G.). Kenny's mom takes care of an elderly woman, leaving him free to roam the streets on his bike. Kenny and Nick strike up an odd, but warm relationship with each other and when Nick is informed by his AA sponsor (Pena) that he must move all his stuff off his lawn in three days, he works with Kenny to help them hold a big yard sale.
A sub-plot involves Nick getting acquainted with the woman across the street who has just moved to the neighborhood and is awaiting her husband's arrival. The relationship isn't as strong or as well-crafted as the relationship between Nick and Kenny, but it is still a solid one.
It's also noteworthy that we never see Nick's wife or the woman's husband anywhere in the film. We don't need to, though. The plot works fine without them, and I believe that if we saw Nick's wife in the film we'd get too many arguments between the two which may result in (a) believability being low and (b) a possibility for Ferrell's comedy side to sneak in. We don't need comedy here. We get it, but in tiny, miniscule doses. There is almost nothing funny about this situation.
Once again, this proves that Will Ferrell is a great character actor, and doesn't have to get drunk, shout his lines, or get in goofy fights to be successful. Unfortunately, Everything Must Go's overall performance wasn't impressive, and it may be a long time before Ferrell does something like this ever again.
Not everything here is perfect. The worst flaw is the ending because there is no emotional payoff, and nothing to make our experience anymore than just enjoyable. I wanted more than enjoyable. I haven't read the short story "Why Don't You Dance?" by Raymond Carver, so I'm not sure of any similarities both this and the story share. Everything Must Go is a good film in general, but a great film in terms of Ferrell, who is essentially putting on a one-man-show for more than half the film.
Starring: Will Ferrell, Christopher Jordan Wallace, Laura Dern, and Michael Pena. Directed by: Dan Rush.