For those attuned to such things, yard sales often carry their own metaphorical moroseness, silently weighted down as they are with the broken dreams of a busted-up family, unwanted move or failed business venture. It’s against this backdrop that the dramedy Everything Must Go unfolds, telling the story of an alcoholic businessman, Frank Porter (Will Ferrell), who loses his job and finds himself locked out of his house by his fed-up, filing-for-divorce wife, with all his possessions stacked on the lawn. Instead of moving on, Frank just sort of hangs out and starts drinking, waiting for a life epiphany and killing time with Kenny (Christopher Jordan Wallace, son of the late Notorious B.I.G.), a neighborhood kid, and Samantha (Rebecca Hall), a pregnant newcomer to the neighborhood.
Taking a break from more conventionally ribald comedies, Ferrell gives a solid performance here, and in his feature film debut, writer-director Dan Rush strikes a nice balance between quiet, inwardly-reflected comedy and something melancholic, tinged with an unarticulated desperation. The film isn’t really all that serious about Nick’s alcoholism, but one doesn’t mind terribly — at least until a putative catharsis in the final act, which arrives falsely, hinging on a narrative pivot with Nick’s sponsor, Frank (Michael Peña), that is simply not believable. If life, as John Lennon said, is what happens while you’re busy making plans, it’s also, in its simplest terms, the sheer accumulation of stuff. Pleasantly offbeat but not aggressively so, Everything Must Go showcases that axiom, in both the material and figurative senses. (Roadside Attractions, R, 96 minutes)