Rookie Feature Director Dan Rush takes Raymond Carver’s remarkable 6 1/2 page snapshot of suburbia Why Don’t You Dance? and delivers a sparkless, dramatically flat, crybaby of a movie.When Nick Halsey (Will Ferrell with his serious face on) returns home from being unceremoniously fired from his job for drinking, his wife has effectively canned him from his marriage as well. She’s changed the locks, frozen their bank account and tossed everyone of his possessions on the front lawn.What does Nick do? Stuck in his front yard with all his earthly belongings and his life in tatters he just sits in his easy chair and morosely drinks his depressed arse away. This being a commercial Indie movie, eventually he attracts a cast of kindred human driftwood to join his pity party. A lonely boy, the lonely pregnant new neighbour, and the lonely old school acquaintance – all scarred by the isolations of American Suburban life.
After forty or so minutes of wallowing and soul bearing, the movie moves out of narrative stall with Nick deciding to hold a yard sale of all his possessions and start over, but by then it’s all over. Almost. The only thing that stops this whole sorry tale from completely falling on its sad-sack face is Will Ferrell. He is always watchable and like his fellow comedy stars Bill Murray and Jim Carrey before him, he shows that there’s some serious dramatic chops beneath The Funny. It’s a damn shame that the movie doesn’t take a leaf out of Ferrell’s book and wrong foot us some way but instead Rush just dishes us nothing but a stand issue IndieWood movie – A heart-aching dramatic premise spiked with Quirkiness: Check! A Plinky Plonky Alt Country soundtrack: Check! A motley assortment of oddball and damaged supporting characters played by recognisable Hollywood character actors: (namely Michael Peña, Rebecca Hall, Laura Dern and the ever-entertaining Stephen Root) Check!
Though I really enjoyed Ferrell’s likable and deceptively nuanced performance, I left feeling bludgeoned by a movie over-earnest in emotion, artless in its cliches and feeling more depressed than impressed.