Directed by Dan Rush
Written by Dan Rush, based on a story by Raymond Carver (“Why Don’t You Dance”)
Starring Will Ferrell, Christopher Jordan Wallace, Rebecca Hall, Michael Pena, Laura Dern

Although I’m not usually much of a Will Ferrell fan, he brought more to this somewhat wan movie than most actors could. I almost wonder if it was a relief to him to play someonr other than the boy-man his comedies have demanded. You never doubt he is this man and this is his life. He totally inhabits the part.

PLOT: This movie scraps most of Carver’s brilliant story in favor of telling its own. Carver’s story is but a few pages long and as is as much about the newly married as the newly separated. What Rush keeps from the original story is the best part of the movie though: the story of a man, Nick Halsey, who has let alcohol fuel his demise. When his wife leaves, locking him and his possessions out of the house, he sets up housekeeping on his front lawn, meeting cute with an African-American twelve year old (Wallace) and a new neighbor (Hall) across the street. Ferrell plays this sad sack without a twitch of a smile. What jokes there are arise from the material and don’t seem soldered on. It is hard to make a six-page story into a ninety-minute movie and a lot of the additional material seems overly familiar and overly sentimental.

I almost think I could have watched Ferrell without the secondary characters. Half as much of the kid and the neighbor would have made it twice as good of a movie. And it’s very hard to understand why Rush scrapped the newlyweds and the dance that gave the story its title. Still enough here to recommend it.

Patti Abbott writes crime fiction short stories. She hosts a look at Forgotten Books every Friday with readers, writers and reviewers at She hopes you’ll join in.