Will Ferrell’s comedy-drama EVERYTHING MUST GO really shows what a great actor he is.

A short story by the great Raymond Carver provides the material for a real gem of a first movie written and directed by Dan Rush – EVERYTHING MUST GO.

Will Ferrell in Everything Must Go

Will Ferrell is Nick Halsey

I thought Will Ferrell was tremendous in Marc Forster’s gorgeously surreal, dark comedy from 2006, Stranger Than Fiction as you saw a more serious side to this brilliantly talented funny man. And discovering that he was possibly working in a similar vein for EVERYTHING MUST GO, I was sold and his performance once again shows what a great actor he is, not just a great comedian. But rather than the fantastical imagination of Zach Helm’s Stranger Than Fiction world, this 2010 movie is very much set in the here and now.

Ferrell’s Nick Halsey starts off being fired from his job and returns home to find that his wife has dumped all of his belongings on the front lawn. The wife is nowhere to be seen and so as she’s changed all the locks, it looks as though Nick will be camping outside with his memories for the foreseeable future. What compounds Nick’s problems is that he’s an alcoholic and this isn’t the day to test his resolve to stay sober. Added to that is a kid on a bike that doesn’t seem to really have a home, a new neighbour waiting for her husband to arrive and a best friend trying to keep him out of trouble. Christopher C. J. Wallace, Rebecca Hall, and Michael Pena play these three people brilliantly and there are also great performances from Stephen Root as the unconventional ‘landlord’ of the street and Laura Dern as Nick’s high school friend who could be part of his future.

But it’s Ferrell who’s at the centre of things and he really does blow you away. He can do the comedy – his glorious creation Ron Burgundy is returning next year in Anchorman 2 and before that we’ll see go head-to-head with Zach Galifianakis in The Campaign – but with movies like this and Stranger Than Fiction you see another side of him, a deep edginess, a soulful humanity, the man behind the comedy mask. You’re so used to seeing the genius comic guises – Dr. Rick Marshall in The Land of the Lost, Jackie Moon in Semi-Pro and Buddy in Elf, being my particular favourites – that it sometimes takes you a little while to realise in movies like this, you’re not really going to see that but you’re going to see something else.

And that’s what EVERYTHING MUST GO does so well, it takes you on a real journey with this character, not to some big revelation but to a point where you don’t know how it’s all going to end – and they’re sometimes the best ones – so I’m looking forward to Rush’s next movie on the strength of this and if he re-teams with Ferrell, we should see something pretty special.