Everything Must Go: Simple and Subtle Comedy-Drama
Christopher Jordan WallaceMichael Pena...
Don’t go in expecting a goofy, happy Will Ferrell. This is him at his
most drunken, sacked and dejected. After a recent alcoholic relapse, Nick
(Ferrell) ends up without a job and abandoned by his wife, who has changed the
house’s locks, frozen his access to their bank account, cancelled his mobile
service and thrown all his stuff out onto the lawn. When his officer friend
(Pena) stops by and finds that he categorically refuses to leave his lawn, he
advises him to hold a yard sale so that he can turn a page in his life and
pull himself together.
While Ferrell gives a surprisingly subtle, heartfelt performance, Nick
doesn’t really struggle as much as a person in his position should. He adapts
to living on the lawn quite easily and seems a bit too comfortable with his new
living situation. Also, his addiction to alcohol, while being the reason behind
all his problems, doesn’t really seem like much of a stigma. Nick spends most
of his time on the lawn chugging beer after beer, and honestly he seems like
the kind that can hold his liquor really well, as he has remarkably lucid
conversations with his new neighbour Samantha (Hall).
Ferrell’s decision to
play Nick as a lucid drunk as opposed to a bumbling lunatic definitely fits
more with the film’s melancholy tone and gives it a sense of realism that the
story rather lacks, yet it does make his wife’s actions seem over-the-top.
Samantha, who is pregnant, has relocated to Arizona along with her
husband who intends to join her as soon as he can. Like Nick, Samantha’s
husband also has problems with alcohol, which have led to his demotion at work.
Nick sees the couple as a younger version of him and his wife. Through getting
to know Samantha, he starts to feel sympathy for her and by extension, for his wife. He gains
a healthy appreciation for what his alcohol abuse problems have put her
through. Hall’s remarkably expressive face conveys her feelings of revulsion
and sympathy for Nick that turn into a type of intimacy once they get to know
each other better.
Nick’s improvement shows itself in his relationship with Kenny
(Wallace), a smart young kid with too much time on his hands. Nick enlists
Kenny’s help in making signs for the yard sale and in actually getting rid of
the stuff. At first, Nick refuses to part with anything. However, as time passes
and with Kenny’s help, he gladly sells most of his stuff, shedding his old
life’s baggage in the form of his junk.
This is a simple, minimalistic film that is melancholic without being
melodramatic. However, for a film showcasing such subtle, understated performances,
it suffers from an overwrought ending. The whole letting go of his previous
life metaphor conveyed in the yard sale arc is tied up with an ending that
hammers this same point home, even more as if it wasn’t glaringly obvious the
first time round.