Thursday, October 25, 2012
"Everything Must Go": How does it feel to be forced to sell your possessions in a yard sale when you hit bottom?
In elementary screenwriting, “they” tell you to put the protagonist into the deepest possible trouble at the outset, and then make it get worse. The character has to discover his own resources to survive and become something new. The trouble is, you have to like the character.
As “Everything Must Go”, Nick (Will Ferrell) is getting his severance package (and even a bonus) from his younger male boss, who is reasonably nice about his booze problem. He goes to his suburban Arizona home and his wife kicks him out. Content to keep his possessions outside and live it up in the mild winter, a local cop prods him into selling all his possessions in a yard sale, or else go to the tank. He has to give up everything up. He also has to hire a local overweight teen at minimum wage to help with the sale and become an entrepreneur, and then learn empathy for a pregnant neighbor.
Nick can't even get a hold of his own money, in a joint account. His wife has frozen it. Then she serves him divorce papers.
The question is, do you really like the character? Do you really see any value in his redemption? Maybe not in a comedy.
The 2010 comedy, from Dan Rush, Lionsgate and Ro0adside Attractions, has this site.
The DVD offers a short “In Character” in which Ferrell explains the film.
For today’s (other) short film, consider “Democracy Starts Here”, an eleven minute introduction to a visit at the National Archives in Washington DC. The most interesting mini-episodes concern the way descendants of Holocaust victims got the rights to Nazi gold, and the way the Japanese Americans were treated during WWII.