“Will Ferrell does a serious turn in Everything Must Go with mixed results,” Hollywood Reporter critic Kirk Honeycutt wrote during last September’s Toronto Film festival. “Playing an alcoholic at a crucial crossroad in his life, he uses his middle-age slacker persona well to convey a guy lost in his own immaturity and low self-esteem. And he nicely finds humor in an otherwise pathetic situation.
“But the performance is too one-note. Using an acting muscle hitherto ignored, Ferrell isn’t able to track the ups-and-downs in the story’s dramatic beats. Instead he falls back on physical humor and facial expressions that don’t quite get to the bottom of what ails his character.
The film, written and directed by commercials director Dan Rush from a Raymond Carver short story, is likewise a mixed blessing. It doesn’t try to shake off its literary roots. Rush intends a fable-like quality to his tale about a guy literally forced to live several days on his suburban front lawn. Yet the protagonist is such a sad sack an audience has to do much too much work to like this guy at all. You don’t even get the impression that if he stopped drinking, he would necessarily be a better person.”