Review: Everything Must Go Blu-ray

Everything Must Go Blu-ray coverSTUDIO: Lionsgate | DIRECTOR: Dan Rush | CAST: Will Ferrell, Rebecca Hall, Michael Peña, Laura Dern, Christopher Jordan Wallace
9/6/2011 | PRICE: Blu-ray $39.99, DVD $27.98
commentary, featurettes, deleted scenes
R | 97 min. | Drama comedy | 2.40:1 widescreen | DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1/Dolby Digital 5.1 | English and Spanish subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5): Movie | Audio | Video | Overall

Everything Must Go movie scene

Will Ferrell is gonna sell it all in Everything Must Go.

Funnyman Will Ferrell (The Other Guys) cools down his usual Hollywood comic persona as a relapsed alcoholic at a crossroads in Everything Must Go.

Based on the 1978 short story “Why Don’t You Dance” — a four pager — by the great Raymond Carver, the movie is a slow-pour, low-budget drama with some occasional humorous dabs.

The film opens on Ferrell’s Nick Halsey arriving home after being fired from his corporate job to discover the locks on his suburban Arizona home have been changed and all his possessions are on the front lawn. It’s the bitter handiwork of his wife, who has taken off, leaving Nick with the revelation that he has lost her too. Picking up a couple of six-packs and slumping into his uneasy chair, Nick is now obviously lost. Really lost — even though he’s still on his lawn.

And there he more or less remains for the duration of the film — extending sloshy greetings to the just-moved-in pregnant gal across the street (Rebecca Hall, The Town), wearily pondering his next move with his local cop buddy/AA sponsor (Michael Peña, The Lincoln Lawyer), taking a shower under the garden hose, playing some old records on his turntable and putting together a yard sale with the help of a shy kid from the neighborhood (Christopher Jordan Wallace, Notorious). In one of his few expeditions off the lawn, Nick even tracks down and chats up a cute acquaintance from high school (Laura Dern, Little Fockers) who wrote something cool in his yearbook two decades earlier.

It’s a deliberately paced film, yes, like a beer buzz that’s paralleling Nick’s slow spiral downward. But first time writer/director Dan Rush’s style is a little too measured, a little too slow. At times, the inertia of Nick’s lawn saga doesn’t help us to feel anything more for the man at its center. Even when a few meaty plot revelations emerge in the final third, the languidness of the approach is more patience-testing than involving.

But kudos to Ferrell for taking on the role, the kind of sad sack character that we usually associate with a Paul Giamatti (Win Win) or a Philip Seymour Hoffman (Jack Goes Boating). Ferrell shows some great range through his restraint, never taking it past the down-and-out level of a guy, a drinker, who is neither nice nor nasty, but who’s simply trying to process what’s happening to him. The fine support he receives from his co-stars makes it even more effective.

The image quality on the Blu-ray is excellent in its rendition of cinematographer Michael Barrett’s carefully modulated dawn-day-dusk-night lighting schemes. And the physical details are all there too, from the tinny look of Ferrell’s slowly diminishing supply of Pabst Blue Ribbon beer cans to the crinkled sleeves of his vintage LPs. Audio-wise, the dialog is clear and the sounds of suburbia — bird chirps, feet trudging across grass, passing cars — are all solid without being overpowering.

The modest package of bonus features on the disc is led by a relaxed commentary by director Dan Rush who talks about how his script made its way to Ferrell’s hands and how Ferrell ultimately was cast in the film though he wasn’t Rush’s first choice. Rush is joined by supporting actor Peña, which is kind of disappointing as the conspicuously absent Ferrell is the one we want to hear from.

Of the two featurettes, “In Character With Will Ferrell” offers the most insight into Ferrell’s wrangling of the role and his thoughts on the overall film, which he describes as a story that’s “not trying to be any kind of specific movie.”

There are also a handful of deleted scenes, including one that finds Nick making a nighttime phone call to a hooker, who promptly drives up and assesses the situation before swiping a bunch of Nick’s stuff and then driving away.


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About Laurence

Founder and editor Laurence Lerman saw Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest when he was 13 years old and that’s all it took. He has been writing about film and video for more than a quarter of a century for magazines, anthologies, websites and most recently, Video Business magazine, where he served as the Reviews Editor for 15 years.