Will Ferrell has finally got in touch with his thespian side. Anchorman has become more quoted than the bible and his cameo in Wedding Crashers may have been the best thing about the entire film, but Ferrell has never really pushed himself when it comes to serious acting.
Stranger Than Fiction was reasonably straight-faced, granted but there is nothing like a good bash over the head with unemployment, divorce, homelessness, poverty and alcoholism to sap the comic juice out of everyone’s favourite big screen burke.
Ferrell’s latest flick, Everything Must Go, features each soul-crushing ingredient in abundance. If anything bad has happened recently, ditch the popcorn and bring the valium. On the plus side funny man Ferrell holds his own despite finding himself in this depression pressure cooker based loosely on Why Don’t You Dance?, a story by Raymond Carver.
We meet Nick Halsey (Ferrell) just as his lacklustre performance and questionable conduct as the salesman of sales techniques, has earned him the sack. After being unceremoniously ousted with nothing more than a pen knife to his name, Nick returns home to find his wife gone, the locks changed and his possessions on the lawn. His alcohol dependence rears its ugly head as events go from bad to horrendous when he discovers that his bank account is frozen and his company car has been reclaimed.
In this scenario there is not much else to do but sit back in your favourite lazy boy chair on the lawn and watch the world go by; which is exactly what Nick does. That is until the police tell him that he is actually not allowed to live on his lawn swigging beer incessantly. By the grace of a “yard sale” ruling, the sacked salesman has three days to clean up his act and sell his gear.
Ferrell manages to keep a cheeky twinkle in his eye throughout his ambitious stab at a serious performance and there are some darkly comedic moments to enjoy. The personalised pen knife left in his boss’s slashed tyre and his world-weary sense of humour lift the film out of the doldrums and his relationship with local oddbod, Kenny (son of Notorious B.I.G., Christopher Jordan Wallace) makes for an entertaining double act.
Wallace gives an impressive performance as the broken-home kid who eventually brings Nick out of his self-obsessed, alcohol fuelled daze. After being employed by Nick as his chief salesman (“$7.50 an hour, bathroom and cigarette breaks as required by state law”), Kenny provides Nick with refreshingly innocent perspective on his miserable predicament, and audiences with a welcome distraction from the otherwise Ferrell-filled 96 minutes. The pair strike up a surprisingly convincing on-screen bond and the comedy giant does not seem to mind sharing the limelight with the young star.
Some Ferrell fans may find this film a painfully slow and boring trudge through some of the most depressing and unwelcome life crap that a person can endure. But it is vital that, upon entering the cinema, you get the silly-billy antics and memorable one liners of Ferrell’s attention-seeking comedy alter-ego out of your head. That way you might stand a chance of enjoying this surprisingly sensitive and darkly comic drama.