The premise of “Everything Falls Apart” is that a man has sunken so low that all of his possessions are on his front yard and he will sell them so he can start again. It’s a great metaphor for an exposed life because everyone driving by can examine how he is functioning. The problem is how do you get someone to that point.
Will Ferrell plays Nick Halsey who ends up on his lawn. It takes about ten minutes for him to hit rock bottom from every direction at once. He is cruelly fired by “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” ’s Glenn Howerton. He loses his car, access to his house, his identification, almost every friend he has, he started drinking again, and he may go to jail since he’s awkwardly living outside.
The situation sounds like a Greek tragedy on paper, but it’s played off as just another opening to a movie. It seems based in realism and only the driest of humor. Once they’ve placed this character in this impossible situation, where can they go? The answer: the simplest path towards recovery. He instantly meets the kind-hearted neighbors (Rebecca Hall and Christopher Jordan Wallace) who will serve as spiritual guiders who also need a little help.
For a premise so ripe with material, this just felt a little lazy. It’s based off a short story by Raymond Carver, whose work has inspired films like “Short Cuts” and “Jindabyne”. I haven’t read the short fiction, but I can already guess what scenes were added in. There are too many subplots that don’t feel like enough of carthasis for Nick, including when he runs into an old high school friend played by Laura Dern. Stephen Root is also in this movie, but I’m not sure why.
What this movie does get right is letting the actors play within the scene. Ferrell has a ton of props to work with on his lawn. Not in a goofy Carrot Top fashion, but as a source of emotional pain. He parks himself on the La-Z-Boy like the king of his domain, choosing what is and isn’t important to him. Ferrell is great in this because it’s another reminder of how good of an actor he is. His man-child comedy shtick is running dry, but as a dramatic actor the possibilities seem endless.
As a DVD review, I feel safer to go for the obvious recommendation of “Rent It!” because there are plenty of nice small things throughout the film. It has an overall decent story with just a few too many questionable choices.
The DVD is limited with its bonus features. There are two featurettes cut from the same interviews with the cast. One is praising Ferrell for being brilliant, the other is praising the story. Both are dull even though Hall is always delightful. There are also deleted scenes and a commentary with writer/director Dan Rush and third billed Michael Peña, another fine actor who wasn’t given much in this one.
Film: 3 Yaps
Extras: 2 Yaps