Everyone falls on hard times. Everyone struggles. Nick Halsey just does those two things better than most. Life is a series of choices. Some of us choose the safe road. The road that leads us down a path that will never go to any place where anything bad will happen that is your own fault. Some of us choose the adventurous road. The road that will lead you into a life of the unknown with risky decisions awaiting you at every turn. And then there are those who follow the bad decisions road. Nick Halsey took that road doing 150 miles per hour and never looked back… until now.
Everything Must Go is the story of a man who just made one too many bad decisions. He worked his way up the corporate ladder, bought some luxurious living quarters in a neighborhood that only allows the finest kind of residents, and he developed a deep and meaningful relationship with the love of his life: beer. When Nick (Ferrell) goes away on a business trip, he’s at a good place in his life. He’s sober and ready to make his company look good. Everything is going well until he makes one bad choice, then another, then another, and who knows how many more after that. Nick doesn’t even know because he had one too many drinks. The film opens in the present with Nick sitting in the company car that will soon be taken from him. He arrives home to find all of his belongings on the lawn. This guy can’t catch a break. I think the audience wants to see him succeed only because, well, he’s Will Ferrell. Ordinarily characters like Nick’s are annoying. The viewer finds themselves angry and wondering why the character can’t just get it together. Again, Will Ferrell. But he’s not the Will Ferrell we’ve seen before. That guy is in there somewhere, but this is a different Ferrell. One who wears a serious face and does whatever he has to do to get his next fix.
I am always skeptical when an actor who primarily does comedy steps into serious shoes. Consider Jim Carrey. In The Number 23, Carrey was frightening as the delusional Walter Sparrow. You have to squint and kind of tilt your head to one side, but comedy actors can play these roles. Not all comedy actors, no no. Only the ones who are truly talented.
Help tends to come in forms that we don’t expect. For Nick, help comes in the form of Samantha and Kenny. Rebecca Hall (The Town) plays Samantha. She is both expecting her husband any day and her new baby. Christopher Jordan Wallace (Notorious) plays Kenny. Kenny rides his bike around Nick’s house long enough for Nick to finally ask him what he wants. Nick manages to form a bond with Kenny and Samantha throughout the film but like any alcoholic, Nick’s beer is first and foremost. The portrayal of alcoholism in the film is incredibly real. Nick tries to carry on normal relationships, but he drinks from morning until night and doesn’t really give his full attention to anyone. He just wants to be left alone to drink and attempt to figure things out.
Eventually, people start to notice all of Nick’s stuff on his lawn. His wife has changed the locks and left and he is essentially living on his lawn. So most assume that he is trying to sell the things that are just sitting on his lawn. Reluctant at first, Nick finally starts selling some of his stuff. With the help of his new friend Kenny, Nick hosts a yard sale to rid himself of his previous life and get his wife back.
Alcoholics cannot rid themselves of their addictions over night. The movie does a fantastic job of giving the audience an ending they can live with and not tying everything up in a neat little package.
The movie maintains a serious vibe, but certainly doesn’t let the audience leave without a few laughs. It deals with a real life problem that lots of folks have to deal with every day. I loved this movie for many reasons. Will Ferrell is one reason. Originality is another. Sure there are plenty of films with storylines similar to this one, but Everything Must Go had a unique delivery and I really appreciated that. In the end, I loved the film because after everything comes crashing down around us and we feel that things will never get better, Everything Must Go reminds us that all is not yet lost.