As a comedic actor, Will Ferrell is boisterous, abrasive and condescending. Yet when he takes on serious roles this childish demeanor becomes tragically real, as is the case with Dan Rush's inaugural film Everything Must Go. The film does not offer anything new to the middle aged drunken failure narrative, nor does it display the medium of dark comedy in any new or unusual way. Yet, the film works harmoniously to show one man's struggle to rediscover life after losing everything and realizing that it is when a person has nothing that they are in a position to truly give everything. Everything Must Go is a soundly made film that benefits from veteran actors, a heartfelt soundtrack and the right dash of indie style cinematography. It is an enjoyable film that at no point tries to overpower its viewers, but instead offers them a window into one man's rise and fall.
The basic premise of the film is that Nick Halsey (Will Ferrell) becomes a middle aged unemployed man after yet another work related skirmish that was directly tied to alcohol abuse. This problem is only exacerbated by coming home to find his belongings strew across his yard, as a result of his wife leaving him. This combination of bad luck leads Nick to undertake a drunken stupor in his front yard in rebellion. His refusal to reconcile the situation is quickly ended when he is informed by his AA Coach Frank (Michael Pena) that it is illegal for him to reside outside of his residence. Fortunately, Nick is able to salvage a few days of life on his lawn by running a yard sale. In the process, Nick befriends a young boy Kenny (Christopher Jordan Wallace) who reminds him that learning and growing are continual processes, even in ones later years. Nick eventually recovers and after another round of devastating news and decides to move on with his life, even if it means starting over clean.
The film is very reminiscent of Eastern philosophy, particularly notions of Karma and cyclical life experiences. Nick represents the particularly bad person, who eventually receives punishment in the form of job and love loss. However, in classic Hindu fashion, his choice to be good and promote positive actions result in favorable experiences as his karmic energy changes. More importantly, however, are the notions that life is truly a continual flow of ups and downs, to steal from Eastern ideas it is an inexplicable series of Yin and Yang days. Nick realizes this truth not when looking at himself, but instead when visiting an old high school friend Delilah (Laura Dern), who after having brief luck now resides in his town with two children alone. She is the aftermath of Nick's experiences and serves as a reminder to him that even if life is currently miserable it is his choice to accept the fate or to correct it through positive actions. He is reminded of his possibility for good nature as Delilah points it out to be something he undertook quite regularly in the past. It is a story of loss and gain, both physical and spiritual and could be easily missed for those only skimming the film at the surface level.
This film is likely still in theaters in much of the U.S. and is certainly enjoyable. Despite being a blatant commercial for PBR it is well worth watching and picking up when its released on DVD.