"Leaving the Past Behind"
What You Need To Know:
EVERYTHING MUST GO is a top-notch character study, with strong relationships, a fine performance by Will Ferrell and some redemptive moments. These positive qualities, however, are spoiled by strong foul language and a gratuitous lewd scene when Nick spies on his next-door neighbors in their bedroom. Consequently, even though there’s a morally uplifting, poignant tone running through EVERYTHING MUST GO, it would be a much better movie if this negative content were eliminated and replaced by stronger, more explicit Christian, biblical or moral content.
(H, B, C, LL, V, SS, N, AA, MM) Light humanist worldview but with a moral, somewhat redemptive premise of repentance and some forgiveness, albeit minus an overt faith component; about 14 or 15 obscenities (including five or so “f” words) and three light exclamatory profanities; light brief violence includes man stabs co-worker’s car tire with Swiss army knife gift given to him by co-worker after co-worker fires him and man charges after police detective friend who betrayed him but detective grabs him and holds his head down on desk; crude scene of depicted sado-masochistic sex when protagonist drunkenly spies on a neighbor couple; upper male nudity as main character is seen showering and neighbor couple shown in leather S&M outfits; movie is about an alcoholic hitting the bottom and, as such, features many scenes of drinking alcohol (mostly beer), and being somewhat drunk sometimes; no smoking or illegal drugs; and, vandalism, man’s wife freezes all their joint money and credit cards (which leaves him no way to find shelter), man talks back to police officer, spying on neighbors, betrayal.
EVERYTHING MUST GO is a powerfully affecting drama with numerous subtle jokes, starring Will Ferrell in a powerful performance as a middle-aged man in Phoenix who loses his job, wife and house in one day due to his chronic alcoholism. Before leaving and changing the locks on their house, Nick’s wife has dumped all of his possessions on their front lawn, demanding that he get rid of them one way or another. After trouble from the police, his Alcoholics Anonymous sponsor – a police detective – tells him he can have five days to keep possessions on his lawn if he declares a yard sale.
With nowhere else to go because his wife has frozen all their money and credit cards, Nick starts piecing through his possessions and memory-boosting items like his high school yearbook. He befriends Kenny, a preteen black boy whose mother is preoccupied with taking care of a dying elderly woman down the street, and hires Kenny to watch his stuff and help him with the yard sale. Nick also tracks down a woman he once had an interest in during high school. Finally, he also gets to know a new neighbor who’s pregnant and going through emotional struggles of her own while waiting for her husband to arrive in town.
Over the course of the five days, Nick decides to move from being self-centered and destructive to struggling with withdrawal from alcohol and finally seeing clearly that he’s responsible for the mistakes that have ruined his life. Ultimately, he strives to give away his best remaining possessions to those who still care about him, allowing everything in his past to be set free and to restore and strengthen his friendships. Eventually, he re-invigorates himself now that he has shirked the negative ways of his past behavior.
EVERYTHING MUST GO is a top-notch character study, with numerous strong relationships, terrific performances (especially by Ferrell in a role that could expand his career horizons) and, best of all, undeniably positive messages of personal responsibility, forgiveness and redemption. All told, this is a beautiful production artistically with positive qualities, but there is some negative content. The biggest problems are some strong foul language, including several uses of the “f” word, and a gratuitous sex scene when Nick spies on two neighbors next door. Also, even though there’s a subtle but morally uplifting, poignant tone running through EVERYTHING MUST GO, it would be a much better movie if the protagonist’s journey had more overt religious tones, and perhaps even some biblical ones, as well as a stronger feel-good ending. That, of course, could upset the cynical, liberal, humanist artistic/journalistic establishment that shuns such content and values. Box office figures show, however, that, if marketed properly, such positive elements usually generate a bigger audience in the long run.