Whenever actors known for comedy go and make the jump to drama, the results are usually more memorable than when a more dramatic actor makes the jump being comedic (there are exceptions). Funny guys like Jack Lemmon have The Apartment, Save the Tiger, Missing, and Glengarry Glen Ross. Robin Williams has Good Morning Vietnam, Awakenings, Dead Poet's Society, The Fisher King, and Good Will Hunting. Jim Carrey has The Truman Show, Man on the Moon, and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Adam Sandler even has has Punch-Drunk Love and Funny People. Will Ferrell has Stranger Than Fiction and you can now add Everything Must Go to his (hopefully growing) list of more "serious" work.
The film is based on a short story by Raymond Carver (Short Cuts) and follows Nick Halsey (Ferrell) who in a single day is fired from his job and left by his wife. His wife does something quite cruel and leaves ALL of his belongings on the front lawn and I do mean all. It does turn out that Nick may or may not deserve what is happening to him and that question hangs over a large chunk of the film. Nick is also a drunk (not the fun kind). He sits on his lawn (since he is kicked out of the house) and drinks a lot. His sponsor (Michael Pena), a police detective, comes by and says that Nick can't stay on his lawn. So Nick decides he will sell all of his belongings in a yard sale.
Several other characters figure into all of this. There is a married pregnant woman (Rebecca Hall) who just moved in across the street, a neighbor (Stephen Root) who complains about Nick's yard, a former high school classmate (Laura Dern) who Nick hopes to reconnect with, Nick's jerk-off of a former boss (Glenn Howerton), and most importantly of all- a young kid (Christopher Jordan Wallace, real life son of the late Notorious B.I.G.) who rides his bike around the area.
In comparison to his previous dramatic role in Stranger Than Fiction, Ferrell was more part of an ensemble in that film. Here, he is clearly the main attraction. Not to say his supporting cast isn't great. Hall is good as usual and Wallace masters being honestly tight-lipped. I will say that Forster's film is greater than this one (the directorial debut of Dan Rush), but Ferrell's performance is arguably stronger here. I think he could even go darker than the character of Nick demands. Still, he is very expressive and completely believable. I did have a little trouble getting past the premise in the beginning, but I stuck it out and was put at a state of ease and relaxation. Ferrell's performance just really held my attention. The film could've taken some more risks, but the result we are left with was sufficient enough.