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Everything Must Go

May 122011
 By , May 12, 2011

“Everything Must Go” | a film review by Gary Chew

Will Ferrell, as Nick Halsey, is much like Ben Stiller is… playing Roger Greenberg. But the movie under discussion isn’t called “Greenberg.”

So, the Ferrellian franchise advances with this new logo, or title: “Everything Must Go.” Just the same, Nick and Roger are like two snails on a rail. Both need sympathy and help, despite their unpleasant, loser-like qualities: Nick, the recently-fired regional vice-president for sales at an unnamed corporation, and Greenberg, a slacker just in from the Big Apple to house-sit his brother’s L.A. digs, but so much better dissing every other character in this film released in early 2010. Read the “Greenberg” review for a reminder, or feel the need to DVD it or catch it a’streaming.

“Everything Must Go,” now on hand only in theaters just about everywhere, boasts a couple of gals who give good back-up to Ferrell. Both woman breathe occasional energy into the rather down beat script.

Rebecca Hall in "The Town"

English actress, Rebecca Hall (“The Town,” “Vicky Cristina Barcelona”) plays Samantha. She’s just newly moved-in across the street from Nick’s property in Scottsdale. Samantha is pregnant and awaiting her husband to arrive from business travels so they can adjust their new place and themselves to Arizona living.

Delilah—Laura Dern, in cameo—is a former high school bud of Nick’s. Divorced, she lives in the area with her two kids. She and Nick haven’t seen each since graduation. But down the page, more about the two gals, since it probably can’t come as a surprise that this picture, written and directed by Dan Rush, is about a new, yet still tragic hero-dude so totally spot-on-perfect for Mr. Ferrell—vehicularly speaking.

Nick is a backsliding alcoholic. Just like his boss, his wife, who’s never on screen, has had enough. The little woman has pretty much put Nick out in the grass on his ass. It’s just him in the front yard of their home with all of his stuff (see George Carlin) scattered on the lawn looking like a yard sale about to happen.

What'll you have? Pabst Blue Ribbon.

A continuous beer commercial (sort of) runs all through the film, as Nick sucks on the ends of large cans of a well-known brand like a hungry infant to a warm bottle. How sad. But, don’cha love that product placement thing?

Mrs. Halsey has split, but, first, changed the locks and access codes. That means Nick can only make entry to the residence by breaking, then entering: not a good idea. She’s also cut his water off at the bank. Now, Nick’s plastic is nil at any quickie mart, however convenient. And I don’t want you to know how awful it is when old Nick gets his car Harry Dean Stanton’d. Good thing the next character Nick runs into in “Everything Must Go” has a bicycle.

Christopher Jordon Wallace

Kenny (Christopher Jordon Wallace) is a latchkey kid in Nick’s neighborhood. You first spot him on the street riding the bike in circles just beyond Nick’s front lawn stuff. For the minimum wage in Arizona, Nick puts Kenny to work helping the floundering former account executive bring a yard sale to fruition —on the green—so to speak. It must be completed in three days. If not, Nick’s AA sponsor, Detective Garcia (Michael Peña, “Crash,” “Million Dollar Baby”) of the Scottsdale PD, will put Nichols B. Halsey in the can, downtown. It’s the law.

In the meantime Nick and Samantha (across the street) have some neighborhood moments that are strictly platonic. After all, Sam is with child and married, too boot. Ms. Hall and Ferrell bring off some neat chit-chat as Samantha sees that Nick isn’t making headway getting back on the wagon he fell from more than year ago. The company has being trying to keep down any gossip about Nick’s one night stand at the hotel during the Denver meeting with a female who works in another department.

Plowing through his stuff (again: Carlin), Nick finds a battered high school annual in which Delilah laid gooey prose on a page when they were 17 or so. She wrote her old home phone number in the year book, then, which allows Nick, now, to get in touch with Delilah’s mom. He gets Delilah’s current address and falls-by her place for a surprise game of Catch-Up. Another well-done scene between Ferrell and Ms. Dern: well worth the watch.

Laura Dern as Sandy in "Blue Velvet"

Good to see Laura. Can’t help thinking of Bobby Vinton doing “Blue Velvet” whenever there’s a big screen Dern turn. Sandy, it’s been ages. Low-keyed, poignant moments float into place, nicely, as Kenny and Nick do yard sale biz, and Nick mentors Kenny on how to be what some might call, being-a-baseball-player. Kenny’s no jock: far from it. But young Wallace (the actor) is a solid member of the cast. You’ll be seeing more of him. Will Ferrell comes close to going all dramatic on us in this role. It’s a solid performance, as well, if you get through the “Now, how can we wring-out more sympathy for the Nick character” posturing.

Success has been Ferrell’s regimen, going back to his zany SNL days at NBC. He’s gained more than enough in gravitas for having vehicles written for him, only. How cool is it to imagine the number of screenwriters — tonight — who’ll be conjuring up something new for a Will Ferrell-like dude to confront foibles in?

What might even be cooler would be for Will to do a secondary, heavy role in a really serious film, the only vehicle being used in the movie… for transport of characters, as the script provides. I have no doubt Will could cut it with aplomb. Ferrell might have to take another kind of cut doing such a picture, though, which would still be more than Arizona minimum wage. And, another thing: Director Rush would’ve added a really nice touch to his film at the outset when Nick is sacked. How ’bout Nick getting fired by Donald Trump, in cameo?

Can’t you hear The Donald rehearsing his line, now?

“Everything Must Go” official site.
Copyright © 2011, Gary Chew. All rights reserved.

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Gary Chew was a classical music host, programmer and producer on Capital Public Radio’s KXPR 88.9FM, Sacramento for 18 years. He retired in January 2007. Read more about Gary's long and storied career here.

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