Editor’s Note: Welcome to the limited Drama Series, in which our writers will discuss their favorite dramatic performances from comedic actors. Today, we are discussing the little seen Will Ferrell drama Everything Must Go (2011).
Written By: Nikkole Steckel
We all know what to expect with Will Ferrell. His usual shtick may be old hat at this point, and while still (somewhat) funny, I would never peg him as a serious dramatic actor. I could never seem to take him seriously just by looking at him. Boy, was I wrong.
In the film, Ferrell plays Nick Halsey, a struggling alcoholic who loses his cushy job of 16 years. He comes home to find his wife has put all of his belongings on their front lawn, changed the locks, and has gone MIA. With his recent job loss (due to alcohol issues), and his wife leaving, Nick dives deeper into a stubborn, self-loathing, alcohol-dependent existence. He refuses to leave, and takes up residence on his lawn. Over the next few days, Nick befriends a young neighborhood teen named Kenny (played to perfection by Christopher “CJ” Wallace – Biggie’s son!!), with whom he strikes up a poignant, slightly co-dependent relationship with – Kenny essential helps Nick put (or, try to put) his life back together. New neighbor Samantha (Rebecca Hall) – who Nick believes he has all figured out – is immediately curious about the “not normal” man living on his lawn, and becomes a huge part of his development throughout the film. Making a short but lovely appearance is the always fantastic Laura Dern as Delilah, a high school acquaintance that Nick briefly reconnects with. Also making a few appearances is Frank (Michael Peña), a local detective and Nick’s AA sponsor – a character who, at face value, seems to be Nick’s biggest champion.
I loved this film. I know, I was pleasantly surprised – a finely crafted dramatic performance was not what I was anticipating. Ferrell played Nick as delicate, damaged, and steadfast. The most touching aspect of this film was the relationship between Nick and the young Kenny. These two, totally different people both feeling lost and hopeless, play off each other beautifully, building a funny and heart-warming friendship.
If you want to spend an hour and a half rooting for someone, or being blown away by top-notch performances, this is a film for you.