Everything Must Go is not your typical Will Ferrell movie. It is moody and slow and honestly quite depressing. And I'm pretty sure no one else in theater apart from me and CE had any idea it was those things going in.
"A film about an alcoholic who loses his job, wife and house all in the same day only to spiral into a mental and emotional crisis of the self while forging tentative bonds with other neighborhood outcasts? Well...if it's got Will Ferrell in it, it's sure to be hi-larious!!"
Indeed Ferrell's character, Nick Halsey, loses all the above things when he falls off the wagon and gets drunk on a business trip, where he may or may not have slept with some people he shouldn't have. Either way, bad things. So Nick's wife, proof that hell hath no fury like a woman blablabla, changes the locks on the house, moves out, throws all of his stuff out onto the lawn, freezes the bank accounts, cancels the credit cards and even turns off the poor bastard's cell phone. The woman is thorough. So Nick does the only thing he feels he can do: buy an ass-ton of Pabst Blue Ribbon, get hammered and take up residence on his lawn.
We never see the wife, but during his drunken lawn-o-rama, Nick interacts with his old AA sponsor, a concerned but ultimately unhelpful cop played by Michael Pena, as well as a pregnant woman moving in across the street while her husband does...things. Things that involve him not being there to help his pregnant wife move. This is discussed. Eventually. But the only other character really worth mentioning is neighbborhood kid, Kenny, played by Christopher Jordan Wallace, son of the Notorious B.I.G. Kenny is enlisted by Nick to watch his stuff during Nick's runs to the liquor store and the two eventually enter into a business partnership to sell all of Nick's crap off with a yard sale. Eventually they become friends, but not in the cheesy sentimental way. They are both quiet, sort of matter of fact. Kenny puts up with Nick's bullshit and Nick teaches him business skills. Wallace is great, never cutesy and annoying but still like a realistic kid and he and Ferrell play well off each other.
Anyway, as Nick tries to figure his shit out and guzzles cheap beer, the movie meanders and drags at some points. Parts are funny, but not really in the laugh out loud sort of way. It's a meditation on alcoholism from the point of view of the alcoholic and this is where the movie shines. Will Ferrell is good. Really good. He is subdued and haunted looking. He is a man who never intended to alienate the people he loved, but ended up doing it anyway and can't figure out how to fix it. He wants desperately for his life to return to normal, but isn't sure what normal is anymore. The ending, while avoiding sap and sentimentalism of unconvincing redemption, is instead of kind of blah, though ultimately realistic. There's not a lot of emotional payoff, which is annoying when a film drags this much, but still, it's worth seeing, provided you know what you're getting into.
Will Ferrell, you devious bastard, do some more dramatic roles before I change my mind about you. In the meantime, Everything Must Go gets three catapults out of five. This is Sugary Cynic, taking up residence on my front lawn but drinking better alcohol. PBR is for hispters. 'Night!
Kenny: "Other kids say stuff to me like, you're so fat, you got shocks on your toilet seat"
Nick: (starts to grin and then stops too late) "Yeah...that's mean"