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LFF 2010: 'Everything Must Go'

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Will Ferrell in Everything Must Go
Will Ferrell had us rolling in the aisles with comedies Anchorman and The Other Guys, but his latest role offers an abrupt change of speed for the former SNL star - so much so, in fact, that's he's slammed on the brakes at full force to a near-standstill. Comics looking for acting cred in drama is nothing new - Robin Williams and Jim Carrey have both had success - so with a sombre Raymond Carver short story as source material, Ferrell is making a bid to be taken seriously.

Newcomer Dan Rush writes and directs this wryly comic drama, casting Ferrell as salesman Nick Halsey, whose life takes a tailspin when he loses his job, wife and home, and lapses back into alcoholism. With his belongings turfed out of his marital home and the locks changed, Nick camps out in the yard doing little else but downing beers. His sponsor Frank (Michael Pena), neighbour Samantha (Rebecca Hall), and Kenny (Christopher Jordan Wallace), a young boy living down the road, all offer support in various forms. Eventually, Nick is given a permit to hold a days-long outdoor sale - allowing him to stay on the yard and sort out his life. The sale becomes a metaphor, as the clearing away of possessions he shared with his wife allows him to move on.

Ferrell delivers a carefully restrained performance, bringing occasional flashes of his comic skills in his relationship with Kenny and his conniving boss Gary (Glenn Howerton). Like Ben Stiller's Greenberg, this is wilfully indie and almost too laid-back for its own good. It's incredibly lethargic and, though the central idea is a nice one, it never completely gets any emotional purchase. It's a shame, because the individual performances are solid and Ferrell clearly has dramatic chops. Somehow, though, it turns out to be less than the sum of its parts.


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