17 August 2009
It's something to note since not too many other reviews will point it out that the director of The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard is Neal Brennan. Who is Neal Brennan? For about the last decade and a half he was the white-guy collaborator, super-close in fact, with Dave Chappelle. Now that their collaboration has fallen apart after Chappelle's walk-away from his show, Brennan is now left to put his own career forward. If The Goods is a sign of where his career might be headed... he still has some ways to go. But it's a decent start: he can definitely let his actors go totally wild and is able to capture plenty of jokes and wacky characters along the way... and also, sometimes, not really at all.
Plot? What plot? It's so thin that you'd need Nicole Richie standing by it for comparison. Oh sure, there's character development, sort of, where we see Don Ready (Jeremy Piven), super hot-shot car salesman and his crew of hot-shot car salesman, come to a small town to help a fledgling car dealership for one weekend to avoid getting bankrupt and/or taken over by the dastardly competition plus a "Man-Band" (over thirty boy band) headed by Ed Helms. The rest of the movie's story focuses on this rag-tag group of characters and their one-track adventures, and Ready's whole "finding-himself" saga which includes facing the fact that he's an a-hole who wanders from town to town without any connections personally or acknowledging that he might have a son (who isn't really, by the way, another 'joke'), and the ultimate goal that you know is going to come around, with a twist or two perhaps.
This is a true throw-a-dart-at-a-board comedy where the filmmaker and writers just keep the gags going and going on. It's not just Brennan pushing it either, since Will Ferrell (who appears in one of the funniest scenes in the movie as an angel visiting Ready to give him a boost as a former salesman) produced it, and it has that crazy anything-goes style. What works? This will be subjective, 100%. You can't go into this knowing what to expect even if you think you'd like 'this' kind of movie, meaning a movie with lots of (very) R-rated comedy and actors that those of us who see these movies recognize (Craig Robinson, ken Jeong, Helms, Rob Riggle). Some may dispute if Rob Riggle playing a 10 year old man-child is funny (or the female salesman who keeps hitting on him) or if James Brolin's gay thing for another salesman is funny, or if Helms as a guy in a "Man-Band" going completely obvious is funny.
Some of this, in fact, is. But if I had one problem really overall it was Jeremy Piven. I have a feeling you either really go with this guys work or you don't. I don't, at least not anymore. To describe his performance as Ready is as simple as saying that he walked off the set of Entorage and didn't get out of character except to switch from talent agent to car salesman. It's old-hat by this point, and it's something that Piven has had for a lot of his career going back to PCU. If someone else had played this character it might have been funnier, or more interesting, but with Piven his obvious streak in this film becomes obnoxious, and even funny lines are overplayed as if "hey, this is FUNNY". This can be a problem sporadically in the film as well (one of the characters, for me, that had this was the WW2 veteran car salesman), but none so more prevalent than Piven.
On the opposite side of this is Ving Rhames, who gives a surprisingly funny comic performance as a mack-daddy who's had sex with hundreds of women... but has 'never made love' and finds his possible match with a political-science major stripping to make ends meet. It's a sign of subtlety that the film lacks otherwise. The Goods is an in-your-face * broad* comedy that keeps the jokes flying like a fast food joint. I don't fault the film for trying, but it will be at best a cult curiosity as opposed to something fans of 'this' kind of comedy fully embrace (the Will Ferrell school of crude absurdity to a tee). 5.5/10
In a desperate attempt to save his rapidly failing used car dealership, Ben Selleck hires a crack team of "car mercenaries" to ramp up sales during the Fourth of July weekend. Led by the fast-talking, foul-mouthed, self-assured Don "The Goods" Ready, the group has three days to sell over 200 cars. But as Don undertakes his newest mission, and quickly falls for the boss's daughter Ivy, he realizes he'll have to trust more than his cars and his crafty skills in deceit to make a success out of the daunting weekend.
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