“Know your products,” is the first rule for being a salesman, according to Nick (Will Ferrell), the main character in the new independent film “Everything Must Go.” Such advice comes is handy when Nick is forced to hold a yard sale after being kicked out of his house by his wife. Based on Raymond Carver’s short story “Why Don’t you Dance?”, “Everything” focuses on Nick as he sells his property and spends a few days living in his front yard.
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As the story begins, Nick is having a terrible day. After his drinking problem starts affecting his work performance, he is fired from his job despite the fact that he is still making his sales numbers. Nick then drives home and finds all of his property on his front lawn. His wife, whose relationship with him was also affected by his drinking problem, has kicked him out of the house and is living with friends.
Interestingly enough, that wife never appears onscreen. She may be the person who put Nick on the front lawn but “Everything” is more interested in what he does when he gets there.
In reality, I’m not sure if Nick’s wife could so easily lock him out of the house without repercussions. If the house is owned by both of them, one assumes that Nick could still get access to it even if the couple is separated. However, once viewers overcome their initial trepidation about the premise, they should be able to enjoy the rest of the story as Nick is eventually forced by the police to hold a yard sale to continue living on his lawn.
A few interesting relationships develop between Nick and his neighbors. He develops a nice friendship with his new neighbor Samantha (Rebecca Hall), who is awaiting her husband’s arrival in town. Both of them seem to be in the same place in life. They both see what life has to offer and realize that they were hoping for something better. Nick also befriends Kenny (Christopher Jordan Wallace), a local teen who wants to learn how to play baseball.
Both of these relationships work but the strongest scenes in the film are the few short ones between Nick and Delilah (Laura Dern), a high school classmate who wrote a kind message to Nick in his yearbook. After finding that old yearbook, Nick visits her and their scenes together are particularly poignant. Nick probably doesn’t know what he’s hoping to achieve by visiting her but he’s curious to know what life could have offered him if he made a few different decisions along the way. The scene doesn’t lead to a romance but it’s important because it shows Nick at his most vulnerable trying to put his life back together.
For much of his career, Ferrell has played larger-than-life characters. In “Everything Must Go,” he has calmed himself down to play a regular man who faces a tough situation. At times the story veers off from its main focus but its compassion for the main character is always there. If you live near a theater playing “Everything Must Go,” go see it. It’s a solid story with a quietly powerful performance from funnyman Will Ferrell.