Will Ferrell has a more dramatic role than usual in Everything Must Go. This has the effect of messing with your head because he has such a big comedy presence as a result of Anchorman and Blades of Glory and many other films that you keep expecting him to break into his shtick. It makes the experience of watching a little unsettling, but interestingly so. He gives marriage advice – he’s been married more than a decade – and discusses here how people are often surprised to find him so normal.
Almost as soon as the film starts the lead character of Nick is sacked by the company that has employed him for 16 years. In quick succession he’s thrown out of home by his wife, has his car repossessed and loses access to his money. It’s a great set up and the story is really about what happens next.
Watch the trailer
Nick stuffs up because of his struggle with alcohol, not because he’s a bad person and the film’s ultimate appeal is that it’s a compassionate portrait of someone who is easy to identify with.
Through much of the film Nick lives on his front lawn while selling all his possessions in a ‘yard sale’ – the American term for garage sale. Hence the title, Everything Must Go. The most desirable item at that sale is the stuffed coyote and according to this interview with Will Ferrell at the Toronto International Film Festival, I’m not alone in thinking that.
The supporting cast
Particularly watch for Rebecca Hall from Vicky Cristina Barcelona, playing the neighbour, and Christopher Wallace, son of the rapper Biggie Smalls, playing Nick’s wise little buddy Kenny.
Ferrell and co. keep it real
Writer/director Dan Rush has said that he and Will Ferrell regularly asked each other whether Everything Must Go was “a drama with comedic moments or a comedy with dramatic moments” but decided it didn’t matter as long as it felt real. From an audience perspective, it doesn’t matter either because what they made is a gentle, thoughtful, entertaining film.
Watch 'Everything Must Go'
Wednesday 24 June, 7:40pm on SBS World Movies (now streaming at SBS On Demand)
Genre: Drama, Comedy
Director: Dan Rush
Starring: Will Ferrell, Rebecca Hall, Christopher Jordan Wallace, Michael Peña, Laura Dern
What's it about?
The story of Nick Halsey (Ferrell), a career salesman whose days of being on top are long gone. The same day Nick gets fired, for falling off the wagon one last time, he returns home to discover his wife has left him, changed the locks on their suburban home and dumped all of his possessions on the front lawn. Faced with his life imploding, Nick puts it all on the line—or more properly, on the lawn—reluctantly holding a garage sale that becomes a unique strategy for survival. Based on a short story by author Raymond Carver (Short Cuts).