Thursday, June 16, 2011

Everything Must Go

It's admirable that the always manic Will Ferrell has attempted to go slightly outside of the box his comedies normally reside in. Unfortunately, Everything Must Go is a flawed film with a confusing tone hindered by the fact that it is Ferrell in the lead role. Had another actor with less pre-conceived baggage been in the role, the film might have been more of a success as a whole. This isn't really Ferrell's fault, he is who he is, but its his miscasting that ultimately dooms the movie underwhelming.

Based on a short story by Raymond Carver [possibly the greatest American short-story writer of all-time], Everything Must Go is about one man's life as it goes from bad to worst. In the span of a few short hours, he's fired in the morning, then returns home to find doors locked and all his belongings on the front lawn. Seems the wife has reached the tipping point regarding his drinking and has delivered a harsh message that divorce is impending. Ferrell's character, Nick, doesn't seem too upset by the situation. As long as he's got an endless supply of cold brew and can sit in his comfy recliner, he's willing to pass the hours sitting amongst his things on the lawn. The neighbors aren't too keen on the site of the never-ending yard sale look that he's cultivating, but Nick's got bigger problems to ponder than what the neighbors are saying.

On the surface, Everything Must Go look like a total departure for Ferrell. He plays Nick low-key, without any of the zany explosions or bizarre behavior his characters are known for. But, if you look a little deeper into this role, it has many similarities with Ferrell's previous work. Ferrell seems to be permanently drawn to various man-child characters and Nick is a case of same-old, same-old in this regard. Nick's a drunk who refuses to accept responsibility for his actions, no matter how many opportunities he's given. He reeks of immaturity as much as he does beer fumes from the continuous knocking back cans of his favorite beverage.

The character of Nick is just another of many stunted males Ferrell has played over the years. A known improvisor, Ferrell can't stop himself from riffing one-liners from time-to-time even in a film where he's supposedly dialed it down. In this regard, Ferrell has failed the movie as he couldn't reside in his character of Nick without letting loose some zingers here and there. Yes, he does it quieter and without his patented over-the-top style, but he's still doing classic Ferrell schtick, it's just been ratcheted down a notch or two.

Everything Must Go is a bland movie. Stuck in an odd void between comedy and drama, its tone is just completely off thanks to the presence of Will Ferrell. I couldn't get away from the strange tone. I'm a fan of Carver's bluntly honest work, but don't think this did him justice. I'm not opposed to seeing Ferrell "go serious" again, but I'd like to see him even further outside his comfort zone that would really challenge his acting skills. Although, next time, the riffing and the man-child persona will have to completely go if he wants to try something new.

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