The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard ain't got the goods. Ha! I never do that, give me a break, I had to watch it. Oh, it's funny enough in places. It wants to be fully surreal, like Happy Gilmore or other better movies, but it can't commit. So it has to try hard to be funny as a character comedy and as a pure lark, but doesn't succeed at either.

Jeremy Piven has done great work, and he's not bad here, but there's no point to any of it, not even building the laughs to bigger laughs. He plays Don Ready, an ace traveling used car salesman, who along with his crew of misfits is called in to assist in the crucial July 4 sale at Selleck Motors, a failing dealership in Temecula, California (just up the road from me, but it didn't feel very familiar, in case any Temeculans will wonder if they'll get some extra kick out of it).

Ready's crew consists of Jibby Newsome (Ving Rhames), Babs Merrick (Kathryn Hahn) and Brent Gage (Don Koechner), Rhames's character of which is pretty funny. They are crazy and sell cars.

The lot is owned by Ben Selleck (James Brolin), and if he can't move a lot of cars very quickly, he'll lose the dealership to a rival across town, Stu Harding (Alan Thicke), whose son Paxton (Ed Helms), coincidentally, is engaged to Selleck's daughter Ivy (Jordana Spiro). Paxton wants to turn the lot into a "rehearsal space" for his middle-aged "man band."

Selleck's son Peter (Rob Riggle, usually quite funny) is Robin Williams's character from Jack, and that plays about as well here as it did there, except less funny in The Goods (I believe this is at least technically possible).

There are a few bright spots. Piven is working very hard, and he does manage to score some good laughs. Rhames's subplot and all of his appearances are entertaining. And Craig Robinson is kind of humorous as DJ Request, who does not want to hear it, before this joke, like most of the other continuing jokes in the film, is also mercilessly run into the ground.

One of the bright spots is not a labored cameo by Will Ferrell, more listless even than in this summer's Land of the Lost. Even Ken Jeong, surprising and funny in The Hangover, is about 400 times less funny in a similar amount of screen time.

This is the first feature film from Neal Brennan, Dave Chappelle's writing partner on "Chappelle's Show," and also on the classic feature Half Baked. The Goods is just half-baked (I did it again!).

By the time they start running little pictures of the characters at the end, with boring updates on what happened to them "after the movie," like a true-crime TV movie, The Goods has worn out its welcome and just outlasted its strongest chuckles. It's hard to care what happened next.

8-19-09


Links for The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard

Internet Movie Database Entry

Roger Ebert Review

Official Site

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