For those who wonder whether Will Ferrell can do anything but slapstick, wonder no more. The star of such films as Anchorman and Old School, gets all serious on us...and that's a good thing. Ferrell shines in the new movie Everything Must Go.
Ferrell plays salesman, and recovering alcoholic , Nick Halsey, who is having the day from Hell. He's fired from his job of 16 years, only to return home to find out that his wife has tossed all of his things onto the lawn, changed the locks to their house, and cancelled all of the credit cards and bank accounts. Of course Nick falls off the wagon and moves onto his front yard.
Enter Kenny Loftus, wonderfully played by Christopher Jordan Wallace (the son of rapper Notorious BIG and Faith Evans). Nick questions the young teen as to why he's hanging around the neighborhood, then asks him to watch his stuff while he makes another beer run. The pair initially strike up a business partnership to help Nick sell the stuff off his lawn, but that partnership quickly turns into friendship.
Nick teaches the overweight teen how to play baseball, and how to close a business deal. And in the process, he helps build the young man's self esteem, something that Nick is woefully lacking.
Nick also strikes up a relationship with new neighbor Samantha, a perfectly cast Rebecca Hall (Please Give). Samantha is pregnant and waiting for her husband to join her from New York. She sees the pain he's in and offers a comforting ear. But she's also carrying some emotional baggage. And Nick bluntly points that out to her in one of the most powerful scenes in the film.
Laura Dern also makes a brief, but poignant appearance. She plays a high school classmate of Nick's who he hasn't seen in twenty years. He shows up uninvited at her door trying to recapture something from his youth. She recognizes just how wounded he is and offers up a big dose of compassion and understanding. "You have a good heart, Nick, and that never changes", she tells him as he departs.
Director and co-writer Dan Rush's script is good, but it's not the words that make this movie special, it's Ferrell's performance. He says more with his eyes and his face than words ever could. It's like you're looking into the man's soul.
I don't want to give the wrong impression of this film, it's very funny, but it's also very poignant. You should see this movie, and you should care.
(Everything Must Go opens Friday, May 13th at the Esquire)