The Dinner: Wasabi Egg Roll Dog at Po Dog (4736 University Way NE)
The Movie: Everything Must Go at Guild 45th (2115 N. 45th St)
The Screenplate: It's more than possible that the last time you saw Will Ferrell standing on the lawn of a suburban neighborhood contemplating important, existential questions, it was whether or not to streak (ultimate decision: "WE'RE GOING STREAKING!") in 2003's Old School . You can probably imagine my confusion, then, that in Ferrell's newest Everything Must Go audiences are expected to take this movie - a movie with Will Ferrell in it - seriously.The first red flag: the cast includes Laura Dern. That is, the Laura Dern who had us tapping into our backup supply of tissue boxes during her brief appearance on screen in I Am Sam, and the Laura Dern who played Jake Gyllenhaal's inspirational teacher, reminding him never to lose sight of his dreams in October Sky. Now, in the low-budget indie, Dern comes at a time when Ferrell needs her most: He's the fired executive and burnt-out, PBR-drinking bro who seems paralyzed by the loss of his job and wife (he's camped out in a reclining lawn chair in front of his wife's house with all of his discarded belongings), unable to move forward. Dern is placed in Everything Must Go as his blatantly angelic conscience, reminding him of the golden-hearted person he was in high school.
What is, perhaps, even harder to swallow is the character Kenny (Christopher Jordan Wallace), the token straggling kid who speaks only a few words but becomes the rock for Ferrell by the end of the picture. And if the name "Christopher Jordan Wallace" rings a bell, that's because he's the son of the legendary Biggie Smalls. How is that straight face working for you?
While some might be inclined to believe that Everything Must Go marks a momentous departure in Ferrell's acting career, as well as an unmatched sophistication in script, what really comes through is a valiant attempt to create a new "indie brand" for himself. In a few years Ferrell will be making quirky cameos like Bill Murray in Wes Anderson flicks, and he'll need to accrue a bit more of a cult following before he gets there. This is a start.
Naturally, following the movie, I needed a simple entree that had transformed itself into obscurity (think: Will Farrell trying to be indie). This quest led me to Po Dog, the server of the great American classic hot dog with a punk rock attitude. Po Dog is what Chipotle is to the movement of Mod-Mex, and then some. The cozy establishment, tucked away at the end of Unversity Way, is draped in skull-patterned wallpaper. While the Strokes screeched "I don't wanna be forgotten" through the overhead speakers, hot dogs sizzled behind the counter, and a mingling of classic and exotic gourmet scents traveled through the seating area.
My selection for dinner? The Wasabi Egg Roll Hot Dog. A kosher beef frank came wrapped in a wonton, deep friend with wasabi aioli and was plopped on top of a bed of cabbage. Brown or American yellow mustard and chipotle ketchup were a few of the complimentary options available, but the wasabi was more than enough for me.
Fittingly, Po Dog is best served with a 12-pack of PBR, self-loathing and a reclining lawn chair.