It would be easy to glance at the ranking of this review and say “oh, look, Will Ferrell trying to be serious. No wonder this movie didn’t work.” I imagine most readers have already moved on to the next thing (I’m digging into Twilight next if you want to scroll forward). But all those readers are wrong.
Well, maybe they’re not. There’s plenty of reasons to keep scrolling by. The quality of my writing, for one.
But they’d be wrong about Ferrell. The movie doesn’t fail because of him, the movie actually fails in spite of him. Ferrell is far and away the best part of this film – convincing, moving, interesting to watch. Ferrell is this film’s beating heart. It’s a pity the movie doesn’t have a pulse.
(see? What did I tell you about the quality of the writing?)
Ferrell plays a struggling alcoholic, fired from his job and thrown out of the house by his fed-up wife. She leaves all his belongings on the lawn, and with nothing else to do but sit, Ferrell refuses to leave, and instead holds a yard sale from his fraying armchair. It’s a fun concept that’s given absolutely no air by its writer-director, Dan Rush. The movie wanders slowly along, moved only by the watchability Ferrell gives the character.
The rest of the movie is spotted with standard dull, indie-movie tropes: the pregnant young woman across the street who teaches him about responsibility (Rebecca Hall), the magic black kid down the road who reunites him with his lost sense of self (Notorious B.I.G.’s son), the best friend/sponsor who keeps swinging by to check up and it turns out is sleeping with his wife (Michael Pena, and yes I know that’s a spoiler but I don’t care because I don’t want you to watch this movie.). Will Ferrell, no thespian, out-acts both Hall and Pena, both of whom are far more lost here than actors of their caliber have any right to be. The fault, I assume, doesn’t lie with them, but with Rush’s unimpressive script and mostly tepid direction. Even the big twist reveal at the end isn’t shocking so much as unnecessary – the people in the theater perked up with an irritated look that announced that they’d already given up on the movie and saw no need to be pulled back in by cheap tricks.
When the movie finished, we all filed out in silence, the room thick with disappointment. Movie’s are supposed to be transportative. This one never moved off the front stoop.