Maybe jail would be the best place for Nick. He has no roof over his head, he has a dwindling supply of cash and he appears to have no acquaintances other than Frank. He can’t leave his yard for fear his things will disappear. That’s where Kenny (Christopher Jordan Wallace) comes in. He’s a lonely young boy from the neighborhood to whom Frank extends an entrepreneurial opportunity. He hires Kenny to watch his stuff, and then to assist him in selling off his possessions through a yard sale.

Nick’s efforts to establish some adult companionship are less successful. He strikes up an uneasy friendship with a new neighbor (Rebecca Hall, The Town) and, searching for some connection to a more stable time in his life, shows up unannounced on the doorstep of an old high-school classmate (Laura Dern, Little Fockers).

It’s an uncomfortable scene, but it’s understandable. Nick is bottoming out. He needs a lifeline. And Ferrell makes us feel Nick’s desperation. In Everything Must Go, the comic actor takes a large step on the well-worn career-path transition from riotous comedies to heavier material—a route successfully navigated by Tom Hanks, Jim Carrey and Bill Murray. In Nick, Ferrell has brought to life a misguided Everyman, someone who makes mistakes, then makes things worse instead of taking the necessary steps that would make things better. He has no spiritual life, no job and is at risk of alienating his few remaining friends.

Carver may have been content to leave his character right there, but writer/director Rush provides some hope for Nick. We see the beginnings of renewal in Nick’s life: a communal gathering at his yard sale, a hug, a few small gestures of kindness. He’s not looking for salvation from above, but he also realizes it won’t be found at the bottom of a beer can. Everything must go—including old, destructive attitudes and behaviors. Only then can Nick make a new start.

CAUTIONS:

  • Language/Profanity: God’s name taken in vain; “f” word used several times; crude reference to male sex organs; “s-it”; “a-s”; Nick and Kenny trade “your momma” jokes; a middle finger extended.
  • Alcohol/Smoking/Drugs: Nick claims a previous history of drinking-related problems is under control, but he is fired for an alcohol-related offense; he buys beer multiple times and drinks it throughout the movie, but toward the story’s conclusion is shown walking past opportunities to purchase or consume alcohol; Nick says his father was a drunk; Nick offers Kenny part-time employment including cigarette breaks, but Kenny tells Nick he doesn’t smoke; Delilah remembers a drunken high school party.
  • Sex/Nudity:Kenny finds a stash of Playboy magazines among Nick’s belongings; Nick sees a neighbor couple engaged in kinky sex; a couple scenes of urination; Nick gives the Playboys to a neighbor.
  • Violence/Crime:Nick uses a knife to pierce his boss’ tire; teens steal stuff off Nick’s lawn; Nick encourages Kenny to fight back against kids who make fun of him; Delilah remembers Nick punching a boy at a high-school party; Nick throws a baseball through a window.
  • Religion/Morals: Kenny tells Nick he lied to him; a husband and wife leave their respective spouses, and one requests a divorce; an affair is discovered.

Questions? Comments? Contact the writer at crosswalkchristian@hotmail.com.