{googleAds}Fans of Will Ferrell will be pleased to know that the funnyman makes a brief cameo in The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard. Most will be disappointed however when they find out not only how brief his appearance is, but also how unfunny both he and the movie are. Strangely though, there are parts of the film that are gut-bustingly hilarious. It has plenty of the raunchiness so many similar films find success with, and is never afraid to reach for silly. But the filmmakers are just never quite able to pull it all together and make it feel like anything more than a series of loosely connected comedy skits. It is steeped in that thick air of improvisation that can either sink or float a film, but none of the performances are memorable enough, nor is the material funny enough to amount to anything worth recommending.

The GoodsThe film stars Jeremy Piven as Don Ready, a smooth-talking hotshot sales agent whose team is called in to rescue a small California auto dealership on the verge of going under. Ready's team of crackerjacks is like the Ghost Busters of car sales, I suppose. Ready's team is made up of Jibby (Ving Rhames), Brent (David Koechner), and Babs (Kathryn Hahn) who are hired to sell every car at Selleck Motors over the July 4th weekend to keep it from being taken over by a rival dealership owned by Stu Harding (Alan Thicke). The proceedings are polluted with numerous unfunny subplots such as the one where Don inexplicably thinks that 22-year-old worker Blake (Jonathan Sadowski) is his unknown son, or the one that finds Babs falling for a 10-year-old boy with a rare disease that makes him appear to be 30-something. Then there's the unfitting appearance of a ghost complete with back-up singers - in the form of Will Ferrell. But let's not even get into that.

The entire success of the film weighs on the shoulders of Piven who's trying to parlay his TV success (HBO's Entourage) into the role of central movie character. His Don Ready is cocksure and oily, two characteristics that carry over from the persona he's built up over the last few years, and that also suit his Ready perfectly. But what's sorely missing is an attraction to his character. We need to love him and root for him in spite of his despicable nature. Adam Sandler gets it right in Funny People. Paul Giamatti and Thomas Haden Church nailed it in Sideways. There has to be something... anything... to get our unwarranted sympathy. In an early scene, as Ready and his band of merry shysters make their way to Temecula California, Ready decides he wants to smoke on the airplane. But when warned by a flight attendant that it's illegal to do so, he launches into a defense of civil rights speech that eventually has the other passengers partying and smoking in the aisles. It's meant to showcase Piven's verbal acuity and to endear us to his character. Instead it does neither. The one actor in The Goods who almost works is Rhames as Jibby. We see his sensitive side when he talks with Babs about his search for true love. He thinks he finds it with stripper Heather (Noureen DeWulf).

The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard could have been a lot worse, I suppose. As it is, it's really just a forgettable comedy with more than a few truly laugh-out-loud moments. At times it gets up and running on all cylinders, but misfires often with bits that simply don't jell. It's as if director Neal Brennan sensed when a scene wasn't working, quickly pulled out and moved on to something else, leaving broken bits and pieces strewn about the place. The Goods is another of those raunch-coms of late, rated a hard R for sexual content, nudity and pervasive language, but unlike most, this one can't find a comedic groove with it's naughty patter. And neither is Piven ever capable of carrying the film. These days it takes more than the shock and awe of excessive vulgarity and outrageous dialogue to win us over.


DVD Details:

Screen Formats: 1.85:1
Subtitles: English, Spanish
Language and Sound: English: Dolby Digital 5.1Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1

Other Features: Color; interactive menus; scene access.