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Everything Must Go (Blu-ray Review)

30 Aug, 2011 By: John Latchem

Street 9/6/11
Box Office $2.7 million
$27.98 DVD, $39.99 Blu-ray
Rated ‘R’ for language and some sexual content.
Stars Will Ferrell, Rebecca Hall, Michael Peña, Christopher Jordan Wallace, Glenn Howerton, Stephen Root, Laura Dern.

First-time writer director Dan Rush has delivered a charming comedy about the power of self-evaluation, the story of an alcoholic named Nick who is forced to examine his life choices when he finds himself at a crossroads. But the headline here is Will Ferrell as Nick, giving his most restrained performance and shining in the process.

As the film begins, Nick is fired from his corporate sales job because, we are told, he relapsed and had a drunken sexual encounter with a co-worker who filed a harassment claim. Nick arrives home to find all his worldly possessions strewn across the front lawn for everyone to see, and a note that his wife has left him. Key to the film’s effectiveness is that we never get to spend any time with the old Nick, but judging by other characters’ reactions to him he must have been a real A-hole.

Locked out of the house, his bank account frozen and with nowhere else to go, Nick decides to camp out on the lawn, much to the bemusement and bewilderment of his neighbors. With his car repossessed, he befriends a kid named Kenny (Christopher Jordan Wallace, son of the late Notorious B.I.G.) in order to use his bike to buy beer. He also meets new neighbor Samantha (Rebecca Hall of The Town), who is pregnant and awaiting the arrival of her husband, and Nick sees something in her that makes him reflect on his own failed marriage.

Soon enough, of course, the police try to force Nick to move along, so he falls back on a yard sale law that lets him stay for five days to sell his stuff, hoping to give himself a clean slate and opening his eyes to the world around him that he’d been drowning out with booze.

Ferrell still expertly nails all the comic beats, but you get the sense that his usual capacity for zaniness is bubbling just beneath the surface, akin to Adam Sandler’s performances in Paul Thomas Anderson’s Punch-Drunk Love and Judd Apatow’s Funny People. Rush states in his commentary (with actor Michael Peña, who plays a cop buddy of Nick’s) that his goal was to make a Will Ferrell movie that didn’t recycle what people had seen before from the actor, and that play against expectation serves the film well since we never quite know what Nick is about to do.

Ferrell would have been a welcome addition to the commentary, but he’s the focus of a short featurette in which he discusses why he wanted to do the movie. There’s also a 10-minute making-of featurette and a few good deleted scenes that include a bittersweet coda and a funny segment in which Nick calls a hooker only to have her steal some of his things while he drones on about his life. If that isn’t a potent metaphor for relationships than I don’t know what is.

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