Everything Must Go

Lawn Chairs, Tables, Rugs…

Main Cast: Will Farrell, Rebecca Hall

Director: Dan Rush

Oh, Will Farrell.  I love you.  You’re funny and stupid and not afraid of anything.  I don’t love every single movie you make (I’m looking at you, Anchorman) but I still feel confident that you will make me laugh at least a few times in even Everything Must Go Posterthe biggest dud.  And yet…I like you as a serious guy, too.  I was truly touched by your sincere, strange character in Stranger Than Fiction and I can say the same for Nick Halsey in Everything Must Go.

Nick is having a bad day.  He gets fired from his job, foolishly tries to take revenge on his boss in the parking lot and arrives home to find all of his belongings on the front lawn of his Arizona home.  You see, Nick is an alcoholic and the people in his life are sick of it.  He loses his car, his cash is blocked and his credit cards are canceled and all he has left is the money in his pocket and a yard full of stuff.  So he buys beer and sets up camp in his lounge chair.

As he begins life on the lawn (a life that has been limited to 3 days by the police department) he meets his new neighbor, a lonely pregnant woman waiting for her husband to arrive, as well as an aimless kid who belongs to a caregiver on the block and spends his days wandering the street on his bike.  The neighbor provides company and some solace and the kid provides a tiny bit of motivation to act civilized if only because he refuses to be chased away by an angry drunk living on his lawn.

It sounds funny.  The trailers make it look funny.  And in some places it is funny.  But at its heart, Everything Must Go is about a man who has hit rock bottom.  This isn’t wacky Will Farrell, it’s some nasty drunk who needs to get his shit together.  He has lost everything truly important in his life – why can’t he let go of these useless things that are scattered on the lawn?  Why is he sitting amongst them, drinking himself into a stupor when he should be trying to pick up the few remaining pieces of his life?  Why?  Because Nick Halsey isn’t ready to stop being a nasty drunk.  Everything Must Go is essentially a chronicle of a man coming to terms with his epic failure on nearly every level and getting to a place where he can start over.  That’s a lot to ask and Farrell does a very good job showing us just how hard Nick is willing to fight to avoid the consequences of his behavior.

Some people are not going to like this Will Farrell.  This isn’t the type of character we expect from him.  But he does such a good job, being surly and sad and a little bit funny.  He’s at his best in Everything Must Go when interacting with the kid (Christopher C.J. Wallace).  It’s easy for Nick to drive adults away but the kid (whose name is actually Kenny) is more needy than Nick is nasty.  The scenes with Nick and Kenny are the most revealing of Nick’s true nature, making them some of the best in the film.  The scenes between Nick and his neighbor Samantha (Rebecca Hall) don’t fare quite as well and feel a little draggy in comparison.

Overall, Everything Must Go is a reasonably solid dramedy about an alcoholic hitting bottom in front of his entire neighborhood.  His immediate situation is humorous but his underlying problem and its various manifestations are serious.  Will Farrell and director Dan Rush adapt Raymond Carver’s short story (entitled Why Don’t You Dance?) with a nice sense of both the foolish and the deeply sad.  It’s a good movie – just know going in that this isn’t your usual Will Farrell and that the trailers don’t accurately represent the amount of drama in the film.  3 ½ stars out of 5.

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