Everything Must Go

Everything Must Go

**

Reviewed by: James Benefield

There's something increasingly bland and uninvolving about this Will Ferrell vehicle which, like him or loathe him, you've got to admit is a kind of achievement.

Usually known for his exuberant, perhaps somewhat obnoxious, performances, here Ferrell plays the exact reverse, Nick Halsey, a subdued alcoholic who's suffered another relapse. His behaviour has led to being kicked out of his job as a vice president in a giant corporation, and being abandoned by his wife. A kind of public breakdown follows which sees Nick selling off the contents of his house on his front lawn and befriending a neighbourhood child to help him in the task. It's not all bad, though; he forms an inexplicable friendship with his beautiful neighbour Samantha (Rebecca Hall), gets to drink a lot of beer and eat a lot of Chinese takeaway.

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Just like the main character's relapse, the film is disappointing in the waste of its potential. The source material is a Raymond Carver short story, so this adaptation should be full of melancholy, self-loathing and characters gazing into middle distance in an attempt to detach themselves from the empty hole in the centre of their lives. Instead, we get Ferrell sitting on a lilo getting his schlub on.

This might not be a problem if the director took a different view of this middle-aged malaise. Unfortunately, first-time helmer Dan Rush has nothing to say apart from that 'life happened' to this guy. He doesn't fill in any back story – it's unessential for a Carver story where we're encouraged to fill in the blanks but it's more necessary when you're completely changing tack and doing a more generic mid-life crisis narrative. We need more detail, more feeling and less peculiar, underwritten friendships with drop dead gorgeous women next door.

Aside from committing the cinematic crime of not making use of one of the few screen appearances of Laura Dern (the woman who burnt herself into the back of cinema's collective retina with her film-melting performance in Inland Empire, back in 2006), this is an entirely forgettable experience. The replacement of melancholy and emptiness with malaise and nostalgia sinks this gossamer thin, but potentially resonant, story of a descent into a sad middle age.

Reviewed on: 21 Nov 2011
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Tale of a middle-aged suburbanite whose life is crumbling.
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