The velvet paintings of clowns crying tell us that all funny people have a sad man inside. So does Smokey Robinson, and so does Marc Maron in his bi-weekly podcast. It’s then no surprise that Will Ferrell will take a serious role now and again, and Everything Must Go, directed by Dan Rush, promises melancholy and some laughs. The trailer also promises Rebecca Hall, Laura Dern, Michael Peña, and Stephen Root in this Raymond Carver-derived narrative. Check it out…

Get the Flash Player to see this content.

There does seem to be some humor – or at least the trailer plays up some funny moments – but the denotation that its screened festivals and the lack of constant jokes surely separates this from – say – The Other Guys. Farrell is great at playing helpless and slightly befuddled, and this seems to be in his wheelhouse, though reviews suggest it’s a little less Little Miss Sunshine than the trailer lets on. The plot synopsis suggests Farrell’s character lost both his wife and job because he fell off the wagon.

But what we see here are some comedy ringers, and the elements of a romantic comedy – with Hall playing the role of the “Manic Pixie Dream Girl” who seems to enter Farrell’s life to help get him out of his rut. The trailer also offers a timeline, which means that it looks like the movie is a portrait of five days, and that portrait of a character makes it at least feel Raymond Carver-esque. Carver was most famously adapted by the late Robert Altman in Short Cuts.

Is the Everything Must Go trailer a bait and switch?