Nick (Will Ferrell) has lost his job. His wife has left him. His possessions sit on the front lawn. The sprinkler system is active.
And that’s just one day.
Despite all of that, Dan Rush directs Everything Must Go with a calm demeanor, the film quaint, quiet, and almost soothing. Nick’s outbursts are an exception, a rare expression of outward anger, the character collected and keeping his emotions crammed inside.
Everything blends that tight mixture of comedy and drama better than it should, Nick sympathetic but with enough dry wit to elicit a stream of laughs. The film then becomes inviting, warm, and even easy to relate too, even if one of your hobbies isn’t Pabst Blue Ribbon. Down on his luck and jobless goes along way these days with the current economic climate.
Rush’s direction never exploits it though, turning those images of items strewn about a lawn into clever metaphor. Nick’s problem is that he keeps hanging on, holding a yard sale where he won’t sell shoes or his chair, but half a bottle of mouthwash and dental floss are fair game. He begins a process of recovery, all of it bound to those things in some way.
It handles Nick’s emotions then in a refreshing way, a far cry from the usual round of movie alcoholics and divorcees. Everything relies more on conversation and physical meanings than streams of violent outbursts, although it has those too in minor quantities. The core concept may have come down to, “Will Ferrell has a garage sale,” but it becomes, “Will Ferrell struggles to find himself while having a garage sale.” It sounds pretentious, more so for a small indie offering, and it’s all salvaged by a charming lead.
Everything opens on a profile shot of Ferrell, a deeply textured, contrasty shot with something just a little bit off about it. Sure, the detail will dazzle and the depth will hit home, but there’s an unnatural air about it. That seems to be drawn from a barely visible level of sharpening, that light tampering enough to push some aliasing into the image in the first act and some of the second, along with some halos that are spread thin.
It’s probably not something everyone will pick up on, certainly more noticeable on screens of grand size as opposed to those 40” or less. Even then most won’t find it too intrusive, the overwhelming high points enough to send the sharpening shimmying downward while other elements overtake it.
For instance, the color, warm and intense with its saturation. Flesh tones veer towards red without ever becoming offensive, and the backdrops are glazed with natural primaries. Nick’s yard contains brilliantly green grass, and short of a few scenes at a carryout, Everything is almost totally devoid of teal to offset the oranges. Thank you merciful higher power.
Contrast proves heavy, at a few points filtered to bloom outward a bit. Black levels are always contained though, producing substantial, weighty depth that is pleasing. At night, some of that harshness from the false sharpness is eliminated leaving the image a little more pure than usual.
Texture will carry over to the mid-range, impressive in its dominance at times. Almost every shot with Ferrell captures all of his facial detail, and thick clothing will produce on equal levels. Other side characters are not as consistent, but then again, they don’t have faces as textured as Ferrell either. Regardless, it’s natural, and the mild grain structure is just enough to add a firm, filmic glaze to the image.
Nick breaks a window at 1:02:10, the glass shattering in the left rear unmistakeably. That’s it. Really.
This dramedy does its thing, the DTS-HD track popping up when it can to add some pizazz to the peaceful soundtrack. Nothing here rises up past a whisper point, dialogue always in that depressing phase it won’t find a way out of.
It doesn’t create many elements to work with, although as is usually the case, there’s nothing distinctly wrong with the track either. Balance is pure, minor highs are controlled, and the sub will sit around collecting a non-existent paycheck waiting for something to do.
A commentary unfortunately doesn’t offer up Ferrell’s thoughts, a shame since it’s an interesting character. Instead, director Dan Rush and actor Michael Pena deliver their experiences via their chatter. In-Character with Will Ferrell lets Ferrell and crew discuss the character arc. A behind-the-scenes bit is 10-minutes of the usual, easily skimmed over as a time saver. Five deleted and extended scenes don’t add much, but hold an additional laugh or two.