Nick Halsey (Will Ferrell) was at the top of his game as a salesman for a large corporation. Carefully hidden away in middle management it seemed like nothing would be able to touch him. If it wasn't for his very real alcoholism, nothing would have. But, on a company trip to Denver, Nick found himself drunk with a female co-worker. Now he's in trouble.
The movie opens with Nick, a man who's in the throes of a full-blown mid-life crisis, has just found out that his crisis has gotten infinitely worse. Not only has he lost his job and received, for his sixteen years of service, a commemorative Swiss Army knife, but his wife has left him amid the allegations that he's had an affair. Nick returns home to find the locks on the house changed, and all of his stuff strewn across the front lawn.
Based on the short story by Raymond Carver entitled "Why Don't You Dance?" 'Everything Must Go' tells the story of a man who lives on his front lawn because he has no place to go. Instead of moving his stuff off the lawn, Nick decides to live there. He pulls up his favorite chair, arranges his collection of vinyl, and cooks burritos in a rotisserie cooker. Oh, and he buys lots and lots of beer.
The Will Ferrell on display here is a little less 'Old School' and a little more 'Stranger Than Fiction.' Ferrell can do drama but still retain a bit of his unique brand of comedy. He plays Nick in a down-and-out loser sort of way. What does an alcoholic do when he loses everything? He turns to booze. Only, Nick really isn't an angry drunk. His anger is only manifest passive aggressively as he refuses to leave the lawn, even after the police show up and let him know that it's illegal to live on your lawn.
Nick soon meets a neighborhood kid named Kenny (Christopher Jordan Wallace). They instantly hit it off and form an unlikely bond. Their relationship never feels forced like many kid/adult relationships do in movies. Kenny isn't filled to the brim with clever one-liners or beyond-his-years knowledge. He simply helps Nick forget about the dire straights he's in and in turn Nick teaches Kenny a few things about baseball and salesmanship.
Nick decides to sell off his things one by one in a life-sized yard sale. He watches as bits and pieces of his life get carried away by random strangers. Somehow it's cathartic watching his stuff move on to new homes. It's a way to forget the all-too-real troubles that he finds himself in at the moment.
'Everything Must Go' is easy to sit back and watch because Ferrell is so effortlessly funny while playing a man who's at the end of his rope. He doesn't ham up the role too much. He gives Nick an aloof sense of being where all he has to do is pick up a beer can to drown his sorrows. There are few classic Ferrell moments here, but they're understated and usually limited to some of his familiar facial expressions. One thing is for sure though, funny man Ferrell in the right role, can add a solid dramatic stamp to a movie.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
'Everything Must Go' is a Lionsgate release that comes in a standard Blu-ray keepcase along with a slipcover featuring the same artwork as the cover. It's listed as a Region A release and has been pressed onto a 25-GB Blu-ray Disc.
It's always nice to see a lower budget indie movie stick with 35mm. So many indie movies nowadays go the digital route, which takes a lot of that filmic look away from the overall presentation. 'Everything Must Go' looks very cinematic with its 1080p AVC-encoded picture.
Most of the movie is scorched by the harsh Arizona sun, but even though it beats down on the characters, whites never burn hot enough to wash out the picture. Lighting has been dealt with well, seeing that skintones and facial detail stay natural and consistent throughout the movie. Closeups feature heavy amounts of fine facial detail, while mid- to long-range photography features some softer more indistinct shots. There are a few wide shots where Nick and Kenny are playing catch that feature soft edges and indiscernible faces.
When night rolls around, crushing never becomes a problem. Shadows are inky and consistent adding depth to the picture. 'Everything Must Go' looks every bit as good as it could on Blu-ray. It features crisp lines and details (save for some softer wide shots). Strong color dominates the screen like the dark green of Nick's grass or the bright oranges and reds of his wife's Koi in the backyard. Overall, a very solid presentation.
Lionsgate has opted for a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track here that does everything it's supposed to do. 'Everything Must Go' doesn't have any high-octane explosions or car chases so it isn't going to test the dynamics of your home theater sound system. This is a quiet, talky affair that's largely front-centric.
Dialogue is always clear, which is great considering that's most of the movie's sound structure. Music comes and goes whenever Nick sticks on one of his beloved records. The music in the soundtrack bubbles around to the rears, but never really engulfs you. Directionality from someone yelling or talking out of frame perfectly places them where they need to be relative to the camera.
The key here is that the dialogue is presented intelligibly. Even whispered dialogue sounds great.
Even people who find Will Ferrell grating may see this movie as a nice respite from his general wackiness. Ferrell is great here, as is everyone else involved. It's a simple story about complex issues, which will surely hit home for some people out there. 'Everything Must Go' and its strong audio-visual presentation come recommended.