On DVD: “The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard

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In the tradition of the many other Will Ferrell-Adam McKay produced comedies with a colon in the title that’s focused on a quirky character, “The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard” makes a pitch for awkward humor from a wide range of messed up characters. If you’re an easy sell on that kind of humor “The Goods” is worth the time, but looking at it more critically, this movie is just trying to dress up used material so it can sell it like it’s new.

Jeremy Piven is the latest comedian after Will Ferrel and John C. Reilly to attempt to pilot this ailing brand of comedy. Don Ready is a smooth-talking car salesman brought in to help a struggling dealership, a role that’s perhaps a natural evolution (or de-evolution) for Piven’s beloved “Entourage” character, Hollywood agent Ari Gold. Unlike those before him, Piven is not an “I can act so dumb it’s funny” kind of guy so by no fault of his own, he fails to be the best character in his own film. He’s just a hot shot stereotype ramblin’ man character and that’s why he’s given such a large supporting cast.

“The Goods” overloads on whack-job character portraits. Andy Stock and Rick Stempson, writers of the straight-to-DVD colon comedy “Balls Out: Gary the Tennis Coach” starring Sean William-Scott, base their entire film around these character concepts. The plot is dumb, the events that happen are completely pointless: only the characters and the scenes written to utilize the character’s comedic potential are given attention.

Naturally, Ready has a crew that mostly have no tangible sales skill. There’s Brent Gage (David Koechner aka Champ Kind in “Anchorman”), the quasi normal guy who exists solely so the dealership’s owner Mr. Selleck (James Brolin) can make awkward homosexual advances towards him, Jibby (Ving Rhames) who’s had meaningless sex all his life and wants to “make love” to a woman and Babs (Kathryn Hahn), the horny sex-appeal saleswoman who battles both her lesbian desires and her sexual crush on the Selleck’s 10-year-old son stuck in a man’s body (Rob Riggle).

That’s not even the half of them, however. The belief here is that the characters sell the comedy, so all the stops are pulled. Korean-American Ken Jeong (“The Hangover”) plays a salesman named Teddy, there’s a crazy old war vet (Charles Napier), a DJ with internal anger issues (Craig Robinson), the standard “normal girl love interest” in Mr. Selleck’s daughter, her jerk fiancée who’s actually a dork in a “man band” (Ed Helms) and more. Then of course there are cameos, after all this is a Ferrell/McKay movie.

There are hits and misses among them, the hits being the out-of-nowhere jokes that get a quick laugh thanks to the depths the writers and actors are willing to go with their characters, namely in terms of inappropriateness. It’s not the kind of humor that has you laughing a whole scene. That kind of situational humor is minimal. After all the plot is a bunch of crazy sales consultants come in to save a dealership from going bankrupt and having to sell to the owner’s future in-laws, specifically Alan Thicke; a plot that most of us could dream up in our sleep, minus the Alan Thicke part, probably. The cleverness comes not from the story, but “how far can we take a sexual metaphor for a baseball glove.”

For those that find this type of comedy gets them every time, enjoy “The Goods” because this kind of humor is in the bargain bin and who knows how much longer it will last.

2.5/5 Stars

“The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard” (2009)
Directed by: Neal Brennan
Written by: Andy Stock, Rick Stempson
Starring: Jeremy Piven, Ving Rhames, David Koechner, Kathryn Hahn


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