Will Farrell is a funny guy. More importantly, he’s a brilliant actor. Sure he does movies like Semi-Pro, Anchorman, and Land of the Lost, but then Farrell will do a film that’s so completely out of his depth that it’s hard not to notice. Such as Stranger Than Fiction, Farrell shows he can leave the obnoxious character acting behind to put in a truly spectacular performance.
Everything Must Go, originally released in May of 2011, is another such film where Farrell tones down the performance to let his true brilliance out to play. And while the film is not the laugh-a-minute riot many perceive his other films to be, Everything Must Go is a must-see.
Nick Halsey (Farrell) is having an awful day. He just lost his job, his wife left him, and he has now been locked out of his house with all his possessions on the front lawn. While kicking back in his favorite recliner kicking back beers and letting the world go by, Nick is told by his friend and AA sponsor Detective Frank Garcia (Michael Pena) he can host a three-day yard sale to buy himself some time before Frank is forced to have Nick arrested for illegally living on his front lawn. With the support of his new neighbor Samantha (Rebecca Hall) and a street smart boy named Kenny (Christopher Jordan Wallace), Nick begins to slowly piece his life together by doing the one thing he never dreamed of — selling off his belongings.
Writer/director Dan Rush makes his feature film debut by adapting Raymond Carver’s short story “Why Don’t You Dance” to a bleek, disturbingly beautiful reality. The wonderful use of natural lighting sets the stage perfectly. Even in the nighttime scenes, very little light is used to highlight the actions. But it’s Rush’s use of dialogue that hits home. Nick’s every line is just perfect to tear your heart out and make you feel for him, just before you realize that he did this all himself and so you shouldn’t.
Will Farrell hasn’t put in a performance this poignant since Stranger Than Fiction in 2006. His solid delivery and vastly toned down persona allow him to come across as earnest and accessible. His interactions with Christopher Wallace and Rebecca Hall are wonderful, often light-hearted. But it’s his solo moments that really send it home. Even when Nick has no lines, Farrell manages to say it all through his body language — a talent few comedic actors possess anymore. And even though Farrell isn’t known for doing these kind of movies, it’s his more obnoxious roles like in Anchorman that make these scarce performances all the more treasured.
Everything Must Go is a comedy only in the most generous sense of the word. There are a handful of scenes that are honestly funny, but they are laced with dark humor and many of Will Farrell’s fans will reject this movie because of this fact. But those who only watch this movie because they love Farrell’s other movies are not only going to be disappointed, but they will be missing out on one of the most true, inspired performances of Farrell’s career, and, much like this year’s Seeking A Friend For the End of the World, the true beauty of letting go when you have nothing left to lose.
FINAL VERDICT: Though Will Farrell fans may need to look elsewhere, Everything Must Go is a wonderful film for anyone who loves films off the beaten path. Often disparaging and bleek, Everything Must Go shows that it’s never too late to take your life back, and that’s a message anyone can get behind.