DVD Release Date: September 6, 2011
Theatrical Release Date: May 13, 2011 (limited)
Rating: R (for language and some sexual content)
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Adaptation
Run Time: 96 min.
Director: Dan Rush
Actors: Will Ferrell, Rebecca Hall, Christopher Jordan Wallace, Michael Pena, Laura Dern, Stephen Root, Glenn Howerton

In the opening moments of Everything Must Go, Nick Halsey, a salesman played by Will Ferrell (Megamind), lays out his rules for business success. Rule #1: Know Your Products. Rule #2: Know Your Customers. Rule #3: Go the Extra Yard.

Those are good yardsticks for evaluating the merits of Everything Must Go, adapted from Raymond Carver’s short story “Why Don’t You Dance?,” by first-time writer/director Dan Rush. At 96 minutes, the film is brief but unhurried, and interesting throughout. Rush knows his product; Carver’s story runs less than seven pages in the collection Where I’m Calling From, and that’s not enough of a plot for today’s ticket-buying customers. So, Rush went the extra yard, expanding the story in ways that are sometimes at odds with the bitter qualities of Carver’s story. Nevertheless, his efforts succeed more often than they fail.

Life is about to deal Nick a hard blow—one largely of his own making. Past indiscretions are about to catch up with him. He shows up to work one day to find that past indiscretions have caught up to him. His boss (Glenn Howerton, Crank: High Voltage) confronts Nick with allegations of alcohol-fueled misbehavior during an earlier business trip, and then terminates him. Nick receives a token for his years of service—a Swiss army knife that Nick promptly sticks into the tire of his boss’ car. He then heads to the convenience store and buys as much beer as he can carry to his car.

Over the next few days, he polishes off the beer can by can, runs out of money, and finally stoops to asking a clerk to allow him to take a six-pack of beer on credit. Beer is all Nick has left. His wife (whom we never see) has changed the locks, put a hold on their bank accounts, discontinued Nick’s credit cards and disappeared. All that remains are Nick’s belongings, spread across the front lawn of their home. So Nick, unsure of his next move, plops down in a recliner and settles in among his life’s few remaining possessions.

The lawn is the site of most of the film’s action. Nick remains in his recliner as day turns to night and the sun starts to rise, awakened by the sprinklers timed to water his lawn each morning. He calls his Alcoholics Anonymous sponsor, Frank (Michael Pena, The Lincoln Lawyer), a police officer who tells Nick to get himself together and find somewhere else go within three days. Otherwise, he’ll be hauled off to jail.