Everything Must Go
Ever have one of those days where everything goes wrong and you just want to give up? I’m sure everyone has, but I doubt many have reached the depressing level of the day Nick Halsey (Will Ferrell) has in Everything Must Go.
Nick gets fired from his job, one that he is actually highly skilled at, but is laid off due to something that happens in Denver. When Nick gets home, he finds all of his belongings on the front lawn, the locks and codes for his house have changed and his wife is refusing to communicate with him from wherever she left for. Oh, and he falls off the wagon and goes on a multi-day beer drinking bender.
The thing about EMG is that everyone in the film is a slightly terrible person, except Kenny (Nick’s young companion) and maybe Samantha (Rebecca Hall), the new neighbor on the block. Nick is an alcoholic unable to make the sacrifices for his wife. To his credit, he tries, but never gives a strong enough effort to actually succeed. His wife, who we never meet, blocks him out so severely his entire life is shut down. His sponsor, Frank Garcia (Michael Pena) is supportive, but only for certain reasons you discover later. There are simply no characters to like. This may have been affected by viewing The Five-Year Engagement earlier in the day, but I couldn’t find a reason to really cheer for Nick to clean himself up. I kind of hoped he would just disappear.
The best part is seeing Ferrell take on a more serious role. He has tried it before in films like Stranger Than Fiction – one I actually enjoyed – and actually makes it work here. He still finds a way to include his humor, but in EMG there is a strong bitterness to his performance that adds a darker shade to the role. As we see Nick go through the stages of, I guess you could call it, grief, Ferrell follows suit by showing the anger, the sadness and the self-loathing, but we barely get a glimpse of the acceptance. This is a slight change from the usual turn-around story, but it is such a necessary piece of the plot that I felt more time should have been devoted to it, instead of just the final sequences. Instead, the film gives the perception of hope without it ever coming to fruition, which doesn’t mesh well.
The supporting cast does a solid job playing off Ferrell’s grumpy stubbornness. Hall, Stephen Root, Laura Dern and Christopher Wallace (Kenny) all play a strong role in representing Nick’s changing emotions. Hall and Wallace were definitely my favorite, not because they were good people, but because they personified all chances of a future for anyone in the film.
Everything Must Go is simply depressing. Where optimism should have shown through, depression and antagonistic feelings overpowered the potential for a shining light. Nick’s life is utterly pathetic and really doesn’t change when all is said and done. You end up getting just as mad at Nick as his cohorts and finish with a strong “ok, now what?”