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Wednesday
Aug122009

The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard

The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard is not an easily defendable movie. There are so many problems with it, ranging from an uninspired story to a forced love connection to bland direction from first timer Neal Brennan, whose previous work consists of a television movie starring Chris Kattan called Totally Awesome (which I can only imagine is pure dreck), that I simply can't sit here and justify a recommendation. So I'm not. But the simple truth is that the movie is rather funny, not hilariously so, to the point where you can look past its poor filmmaking, but enough so that your time planted in your seat isn't a total waste. The Goods is forgettable at best, but there are enough quotable lines here to keep your interest through its blissfully short 90 minute runtime.

Jeremy Piven plays Don "The Goods" Ready, a wisecracking, smooth talking, colloquial know-it-all whose penchant for selling cars has netted him employment as a car pusher all over the country. His newest job lands him at Selleck Motors in Temecula, California. They're a failing business and if they don't increase their numbers quickly, they will be forced into bankruptcy and taken over by their competitors, Harding Imports. Along with his team, Jibby (Ving Rhames), Babs (Kathryn Hahn), and Brent (David Koechner), Don makes the guarantee that he will save the business in the one weekend he is employed. However, he runs into a little kink when he begins to fall in love with the boss's daughter, Ivy (Jordana Spiro), potentially jeopardizing the operation.

As you can surely tell, there is little story here. The set-up is contrived and the unnecessary romance does nothing to further it along. There is, quite literally, nothing in regards to narrative to grasp onto in this film, an obvious bad sign. When it does try to switch things up and add another layer to its already cockamamie story, it elicits nothing but disgust, as seen with the side story of Babs trying to have sex with Peter (Rob Riggle), a 10 year old with a pituitary problem that makes him look like he's 30. This is played for laughs, but it comes off as uncomfortably distasteful.

A common criticism for bad comedies is the "one note joke" observation, the idea that the film in question repeats one prevalent theme, like fart jokes or sex jokes, over and over. The Goods is more like a seven note joke film, with each character personifying one of them. One character is angry all the time, verbally abusing people. Another is gay and hits on men. Yet another is in a boy band and his jokes are tied around that. The list goes on and on. The film as a whole isn't one note, but the characters are and much like a one note film, their shtick gets old by the end, although at a decelerated pace due to its abundance of one note jokes (still with me?).

That doesn't make much sense, but I doubt the reasoning behind the production of this movie does either, so why bother with the semantics? After all, I laughed. Not as much as I would have liked, but I did nonetheless. The funniest part, surprisingly enough, is a Will Ferrell cameo that further sanctions my argument that he is hilarious in 10 minute bursts, but cannot sustain a feature length movie.

If there's a saving grace to this otherwise tiresome fodder, it is Jeremy Piven who is excellent, even in movies that aren't particularly good, like this one. Though each character is one-dimensional, Piven does the best he can with his and manages to squeeze a few laughs out of nothing, as does the rest of the cast. As signaled through my (relative) brevity, I have little to say about this movie. It's a comedy and I found it somewhat funny, but it takes more than that to make a good film. In the end, I just don't have the heart to recommend The Goods.

The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard receives 2.5/5

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