Reel Matt

This blog started as my movie marathon — watching a movie a day for a whole year — and has continued as a place for me to write reviews about movies, TV, and various other items.

About

Blog

Oscar Predictions

This is still a work in progress as I migrate from my old platform at Tumblr. For now, you can still access the whole backlog of posts there at http://reelmatt.tumblr.com

Everything Must Go

Film #315

THE PLOT

When an alcoholic relapses, causing him to lose his wife and his job, he holds a yard sale on his front lawn in an attempt to start over. A new neighbor might be the key to his return to form.

Year 1, Day 322

BEFORE: Now that I’m all moved in and ready to begin what will surely be a fun summer, it’s time to return to the movie marathon. Starting today off is Everything Must Go, a comedy/drama starring Will Ferrell. This is the first Ferrell drama I’ll see and I’m interested to see how he fares away from his comedy. If things go well, I’ll also have a double-feature later, but more on that if it happens.

AFTER: Here’s yet another film with such great potential that’s squandered by complicating things more than they need to be. Everything Must Go is a great look at Nick Halsey (Will Ferrell) who’s life falls apart after relapsing but instead of staying concise and focused, the film tries to be broad and inclusive; the result isn’t good.

Will Ferrell actually does a fairly good job at this turn in drama. While his performance is by no means Oscar worthy and pales in comparison to more talented dramatic actors, Ferrell holds his ground. There’s some subtlety to his performance as an alcoholic; he doesn’t take to either extreme. Some moments you see his kind and compassionate side as he helps his neighbor Samantha (Rebecca Hall) move in or offer the young kid Kenny (Christopher Wallace) money to help him sell his things. Other moments you see his out-of-control, rage-filled rampages destroying his phone, wasting beer, or knocking over piles of his belongings. As far as I’m concerned, Ferrell did his part justice. My reservations coincide with my problems with story.

My first film professor in college said something along the lines of, “If you can make the movie with three characters, you can make it with only two. And if you can do it with only two, you can do it with one. Same goes with locations.” I’m paraphrasing a bit and his statement is a bit extreme to begin with, but the point is: keep it simple. Everything Must Go just screams simple film. It’s not like Iron Man 3 or Star Trek Into Darkness that almost needs it’s big set pieces and action sequences. A majority of the film (I’d say at least 70%) takes place in one location - Halsey’s front lawn - and focuses on two characters - Halsey and Kenny. These moments are great. They provide insight into the characters and the situation they are in. Despite the limitation of one location and two people, these scenes remain entertaining and well done throughout the film even without a lot of variety. That’s because they fit the film; it matches the style. But there’s all of these other characters that clog that up. Samantha, Frank Garcia (Michael Peña), and Delilah (Laura Dern) all serve almost no purpose. The bits they do show up in give us glimpses at other parts of Halsey’s life and how he’s changed from past to present, but the inclusion of the characters raise more questions than answer they provide. Delilah is an especially good example of this, showing up for only five minutes and making me question why they couldn’t just have incorporated her story about Halsey into some other character so I’m not left questioning what Delilah’s purpose is.

Everything Must Go was good in the parts where it was allowed to shine and be itself. Halsey and Kenny (Ferrell and Wallace) work very well together, but they are overshadowed by secondary characters and storylines that, when looking at what they add to the story, aren’t anywhere near as important as the main story itself. These parts are so distracting that it actually hurts the better parts of the film.

RATING: 2 out of 5