Can I call you Smallie Biggs?


Theatrical Release Date: 05/13/2011
Director: Dan Rush
Cast: Will Ferrell, Rebecca Hall, Michael Peña, Christopher Jordan Wallace, Stephen Root, Laura Dern
Rated: R for language and some sexual content.
Runtime: 1 hour, 36 minutes


Trailer:

I hear the articles in that particular issue are titillating!

Based on the short story ‘Why Don’t You Dance?’ by Raymond Carver, “Everything Must Go” is the story of a man who we meet at one of the lowest points in his life.

Now if you’ve watched the trailer (at least the one linked in this review), you might think this is some lighthearted and whimsical look at Will Ferrell as he gets things back together. However, that’s not quite the case. – But the bubbly music insinuates a tone of joy! … Umm, I don’t know how to break this to you but trailers straight up lie every once in a while, are often cut by people who aren’t the director while the movie is still being filmed, and sometimes use footage that doesn’t even make the final cut (i.e. I spotted 2 or 3 alternate takes in the “Bridesmaids” trailer that might only be available via DVD extras).

What audiences should expect is an attempt at melancholy sprinkled with some dry humor. We begin with Ferrell being let go from his job, falling off AA’s metaphorical wagon, and being locked out of his own home by a wife who’s decided their marriage is no longer worth saving. So funny, right!?

Once you are properly attuned to the goals of director Dan Rush, then you can begin to appreciate many of the elements therein. First of all, showing that his turn in “Stranger than Fiction” wasn’t a fluke, Ferrell once again deftly straddles the line between comic and dramatic. Much of the film relies on him being the only character on-screen and while a common complaint I heard from other critics was the slow pacing (most likely exacerbated by converting a short story into a full length feature film), I was adequately engaged with the story … until it goes off the rails in the last act.

What makes unravelling the good elements with some poor story choices in the final scenes worse is that as much as I was entertained by 80% of the film, I still can’t seem to justify why this was even made in the first place. This felt like a passion project for Rush (the director, not the band); a story that hit a nerve with him but he fails to convey to the audience why this story should matter to us.

Like Ferrell, the rest of the cast is generally good. Rebecca Hall once again exhibits a quiet magnetism, playing a lonely and very pregnant neighbor lamenting the absence of a husband seemingly more focused on his job than her. And Christopher Jordan Wallace is a nice choice as a kid who ends up helping Ferrell reconnect to the world while also being helped himself due to a lack of father figure in his life. (Also, he’s the son of the Notorious B.I.G. so that’s a fun fact.)

Any complaints with the acting stem more from the script’s influence than the actors themselves. Michael Peña seems to be overplaying things, until we learn more about his character (the left field and useless plot development that had me slack-jawed and bewildered as to its reason for being involves him). Likewise, Laura Dern portrays a high school classmate of Ferrell’s that he tracks down and is the very definition of a plot device, allowing him to make a seminal realization that he “needed” to make before the credits roll.

I really, really, really wanted to like the film more than I did and didn’t mind the slow pace. However, the manner in which things were resolved and some tangential plot developments toward the end simply submarined the project. “Everything Must Go” lands itself in that pile of films best left for a lazy weekend afternoon on cable TV and gets a 2.5 out of 5.

2.5 out of 5