Monday, January 23, 2012

Everything Must Go

Raymond Carver (1938-1988) is considered one of the most important American writers of the late 20th century and also a major force in the revitalization of the short story in the 1980s. He shared the same belief that Edgar Allen Poe wrote in an essay that anything worth reading should be able to be read in a single sitting. His writings were reflective of his personal experiences and offer a minimalist view on society as compared to the flamboyant writings of his contemporaries. Many of his stories hit on the themes of alcohol abuse and family struggles. "Everything Must Go" is an independent film based on the short story "Why Don't You Dance" adapted by first time writer/director Dan Rush.

The film expands upon the short story; starting with Nick (Will Ferrell) getting fired by his younger boss (Glenn Howerton) to start what is going to be the worst day of his life. He comes home to find that his wife has put all of his belongings on the front lawn with barely an explanation. As the story evolves we learn that Nick has issues with alcohol dependency, which have lead him to this situation. Unwilling to accept the reality of the situation he decides to live on his front lawn much in the way that the short story finds him. He encounters a young boy, Kenny (Christopher Jordan Wallace), who he eventually decides to employ to assist in what becomes an unusual yard sale. Along the way Kenny becomes his only friend and helps him realize what he needs to do. Other neighbors take notice and offer varying levels of support in his situation. His new neighbor (Rebecca Hall) offers a female perspective, while another (Stephen Root) supports in a more unconventional way. His only other friend is detective Frank (Michael Peña) who was his sponsor and has his own reasons for staying away from Nick as he deals with this situation.

Will Ferrell can be a polarizing actor with his comedy with some feeling his style of comedy is stupid, childish, or over-the-top; but others see the method that he is working with that allows him to act in a way that is more natural than others. Whether it be Buddy the Elf or George Bush he brings the characters to life in a unique way. In the film "Everything Must Go" he steps outside of his comfort zone with a more dramatic performance with just enough humor to keep the film moving. This isn't Will Ferrell's first departure from his comfort zone, as he did well with "Stranger Than Fiction" (2006) receiving a Gold Globe nomination. Personally, I feel that Will Ferrell and other comedians should do more movies like this to show that they are not just the funny guy. Robin Williams and Adam Sandler take risks with performances like this and I respect the risks they take.

The film tried to catch on at various festivals in 2010 and 2011, but never had a wide release. After watching the film, I wish it did as I can recommend this 3 Quack film to everyone. As a fan of all things that Quack, I noticed that University of Oregon offensive lineman, Tyler Johnstone, who grew up in the Phoenix, Arizona area is in the film. I am sure that unlike his character he doesn't hate slurpees though. Go Ducks!!!

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