DID YOU READ

“Everything Must Go,” Reviewed

“Everything Must Go,” Reviewed (photo)

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There is a scene in every Will Ferrell movie where Ferrell’s character hits rock bottom and all the puffed-up narcissism gets stripped away to reveal the pathetic loser underneath. Ron Burgundy gets fired, grows a beard, and drinks milk in the hot San Diego sun. Ricky Bobby loses his wife to his best friend, becomes terrified of his race car, and watches a French driver replace him as NASCAR’s hottest star. Brennan Huff is forced to get a job, wear a tie, and plan the largest helicopter leasing event in the Western hemisphere. Ferrell’s new movie, “Everything Must Go,” is that scene stretched out to feature length. In one terrible day, Ferrell’s Nick Halsey gets fired from his job, left by his wife, and locked out of his house. With no money — his wife has cancelled his credit cards and frozen their joint bank account — and nowhere to go, he reacquaints himself with his alcoholism and hangs out on his lawn, where his wife has dumped all his earthly possessions.

All the earlier Ferrell movies I mentioned above were comedies. “Everything Must Go” is certainly funny, but it’s more a sensitive drama with the occasional jolt of humor by Ferrell, who’s playing a man a lot closer to the “I drive a Dodge Stratus!” dude than Robert Goulet. The biggest joke in the movie isn’t a joke at all, it’s a simple, wordless look Ferrell gives to another man after he’s been caught with his pants down. That single look really sums up what sort of film “Everything Must Go” is in a nutshell: quiet and knowing.

I do not subscribe to the theory that drama is more valuable than comedy, or that quote-unquote serious actors are more important than comedic ones. As a well-established Ferrell apologist, I would be quite content to watch him do bread-and-butter broad comedies until the end of time, and to be perfectly honest if he’s going to make me cry, I’d rather he was doing it by making me laugh so hard that I can’t breathe. But nevertheless, Ferrell gives a very good performance here, sad without being saccharine and never showy in that “Look at me! I’m an actor now!” sort of way. I hope we don’t lose Papa Burgundy. But I wouldn’t mind seeing more of Nick Halsey occasionally as well.

Halsey’s neighbors aren’t too keen to watch a guy drink himself into oblivion on his front lawn, but fortunately for Nick his AA sponsor Frank (Michael Peña) works for the local police department. He finds a loophole in the law that says anyone can operate a yard sale for five straight days before the police can shut them down. Which means Nick now has five days to get rid of the crap on his lawn, get himself together, and find something to do with his life. With no car, no phone, and no house that won’t be easy.

Besides Frank, Nick’s only human connections are two other lonely members of the Phoenix suburbs. There’s Samantha (Rebecca Hall), a pregnant woman who’s moved out West without her husband to get their house in order while he finishes up some business back in New York City. And then there’s Kenny (Christopher Jordan Wallace, son of the Notorious B.I.G. and Faith Evans), who’s alone all day while his mother works as a nurse. You might think you know what to expect from these relationships, but the screenplay by first-time director Dan Rush from a short story by Raymond Carver, might surprise you.

There are some exchanges in “Everything Must Go” that are big and dramatic in a way that feels more like beats from a screenwriting manual than conversations pulled from real life; we definitely didn’t need to hear Nick scream “I’m no different than any of you, I just don’t hide in my house!” to his neighbors, for example. The movie works much better in minor keys, letting Ferrell plaintively riff on his established persona while bouncing off his fine supporting cast. The finest sequence is perhaps the least consequential to the narrative. Nick finds a sweet dedication in his high school yearbook and seeks out the woman who wrote it. The friend, a single mother who lives nearby, is played wonderfully by Laura Dern. Their scene, about life’s adventures and disappointments, is awkward and tender and beautifully melancholy.

Dern’s character says that good without bad ain’t no good at all. So perhaps “Everything Must Go”‘s minor flaws serve to accentuate just how precise and moving the rest of it is. It begins where most Will Ferrell movies end. It could be the beginning of a whole new phase of his career.

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Hard Out

Comedy From The Closet

Janice and Jeffrey Available Now On IFC's Comedy Crib

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She’s been referred to as “the love child of Amy Sedaris and Tracy Ullman,” and he’s a self-described “Italian who knows how to cook a great spaghetti alla carbonara.” They’re Mollie Merkel and Matteo Lane, prolific indie comedians who blended their robust creative juices to bring us the new Comedy Crib series Janice and Jeffrey. Mollie and Matteo took time to answer our probing questions about their series and themselves. Here’s a taste.

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IFC: How would you describe Janice and Jeffrey to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Mollie & Matteo: Janice and Jeffrey is about a married couple experiencing intimacy issues but who don’t have a clue it’s because they are gay. Their oblivion makes them even more endearing.  Their total lack of awareness provides for a buffet of comedy.

IFC: What’s your origin story? How did you two people meet and how long have you been working together?

Mollie: We met at a dive bar in Wrigley Field Chicago. It was a show called Entertaining Julie… It was a cool variety scene with lots of talented people. I was doing Janice one night and Matteo was doing an impression of Liza Minnelli. We sort of just fell in love with each other’s… ACT! Matteo made the first move and told me how much he loved Janice and I drove home feeling like I just met someone really special.

IFC: How would Janice describe Jeffrey?

Mollie: “He can paint, cook homemade Bolognese, and sing Opera. Not to mention he has a great body. He makes me feel empowered and free. He doesn’t suffocate me with attention so our love has room to breath.”

IFC: How would Jeffrey describe Janice?

Matteo: “Like a Ford. Built to last.”

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Mollie & Matteo: Our current political world is mirroring and reflecting this belief that homosexuality is wrong. So what better time for satire. Everyone is so pro gay and equal rights, which is of course what we want, too. But no one is looking at middle America and people actually in the closet. No one is saying, hey this is really painful and tragic, and sitting with that. Having compassion but providing the desperate relief of laughter…This seemed like the healthiest, best way to “fight” the gay rights “fight”.

IFC: Hummus is hilarious. Why is it so funny?

Mollie: It just seems like something people take really seriously, which is funny to me. I started to see it in a lot of lesbians’ refrigerators at a time. It’s like observing a lesbian in a comfortable shoe. It’s a language we speak. Pass the Hummus. Turn on the Indigo Girls would ya?

See the whole season of Janice and Jeffrey right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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Die Hard Dads

Inspiration For Die Hard Dads

Die Hard is on IFC all Father's Day Long

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIPHY

Yippee ki-yay, everybody! It’s time to celebrate the those most literal of mother-effers: dads!

And just in case the title of this post left anything to the imagination, IFC is giving dads balls-to-the-wall ’80s treatment with a glorious marathon of action trailblazer Die Hard.

There are so many things we could say about Die Hard. We could talk about how it was comedian Bruce Willis’s first foray into action flicks, or Alan Rickman’s big screen debut. But dads don’t give a sh!t about that stuff.

No, dads just want to fantasize that they could be deathproof quip factory John McClane in their own mundane lives. So while you celebrate the fathers in your life, consider how John McClane would respond to these traditional “dad” moments…

Wedding Toasts

Dads always struggle to find the right words of welcome to extend to new family. John McClane, on the other hand, is the master of inclusivity.
Die Hard wedding

Using Public Restrooms

While nine out of ten dads would rather die than use a disgusting public bathroom, McClane isn’t bothered one bit. So long as he can fit a bloody foot in the sink, he’s G2G.
Die Hard restroom

Awkward Dancing

Because every dad needs a signature move.
Die Hard dance

Writing Thank You Notes

It can be hard for dads to express gratitude. Not only can McClane articulate his thanks, he makes it feel personal.
Die Hard thank you

Valentine’s Day

How would John McClane say “I heart you” in a way that ain’t cliche? The image speaks for itself.
Die Hard valentines

Shopping

The only thing most dads hate more than shopping is fielding eleventh-hour phone calls with additional items for the list. But does McClane throw a typical man-tantrum? Nope. He finds the words to express his feelings like a goddam adult.
Die Hard thank you

Last Minute Errands

John McClane knows when a fight isn’t worth fighting.
Die Hard errands

Sneaking Out Of The Office Early

What is this, high school? Make a real exit, dads.
Die Hard office

Think you or your dad could stand to be more like Bruce? Role model fodder abounds in the Die Hard marathon all Father’s Day long on IFC.

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Founding Farters

Know Your Nerd History

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIFs via Giphy

That we live in the heyday of nerds is no hot secret. Scientists are celebrities, musicians are robots and late night hosts can recite every word of the Silmarillion. It’s too easy to think that it’s always been this way. But the truth is we owe much to our nerd forebearers who toiled through the jock-filled ’80s so that we might take over the world.

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Our humble beginnings are perhaps best captured in iconic ’80s romp Revenge of the Nerds. Like the founding fathers of our Country, the titular nerds rose above their circumstances to culturally pave the way for every Colbert and deGrasse Tyson that we know and love today.

To make sure you’re in the know about our very important cultural roots, here’s a quick download of the vengeful nerds without whom our shameful stereotypes might never have evolved.

Lewis Skolnick

The George Washington of nerds whose unflappable optimism – even in the face of humiliating self-awareness – basically gave birth to the Geek Pride movement.

Gilbert Lowe

OK, this guy is wet blanket, but an important wet blanket. Think Aaron Burr to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton. His glass-mostly-empty attitude is a galvanizing force for Lewis. Who knows if Lewis could have kept up his optimism without Lowe’s Debbie-Downer outlook?

Arnold Poindexter

A music nerd who, after a soft start (inside joke, you’ll get it later), came out of his shell and let his passion lead instead of his anxiety. If you played an instrument (specifically, electric violin), and you were a nerd, this was your patron saint.

Booger

A sex-loving, blunt-smoking, nose-picking guitar hero. If you don’t think he sounds like a classic nerd, you’re absolutely right. And that’s the whole point. Along with Lamar, he simultaneously expanded the definition of nerd and gave pre-existing nerds a twisted sort of cred by association.

Lamar Latrell

Black, gay, and a crazy good breakdancer. In other words, a total groundbreaker. He proved to the world that nerds don’t have a single mold, but are simply outcasts waiting for their moment.

Ogre

Exceedingly stupid, this dumbass was monumental because he (in a sequel) leaves the jocks to become a nerd. Totally unheard of back then. Now all jocks are basically nerds.

Well, there they are. Never forget that we stand on their shoulders.

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC all month long.

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