Thursday, September 17, 2009


THE GOODS: LIVE HARD, SELL HARD is funny. It will sneak up on you and win you over. Directed by Chapelle Show regular Neal Brennan, THE GOODS is crude, stereotypical, and presents gross levels of human ugliness. Somehow underneath it all, it finds an excuse to justify all of this irreverent mayhem and deliver one of the best R-rated comedies on the market today.

THE GOODS stars Jeremy Piven. The first time I noticed Piven was in 1993’s horrible Denis Leary/Everlast thriller JUDGEMENT NIGHT. In that dismissible film, Piven played a completely hateable sleazeball. I have seen Piven in multiple roles since, and sleazeball seems to be this man’s best acting suit. That was my opinion, so I asked friends and family what they think about Piven. The general consensus is the same: everyone agrees that he is a sleazeball. Piven has completely mastered the sleazeball niche.

There is no surprise whatsoever in Piven’s starring role as Don Ready, a car selling mercenary/hustler in THE GOODS. A close friend of mine recently told me that when he looks at Piven he sees a man who snorts cocaine and smacks women. Perhaps such an accusation is harsh, but a man taking roles like the role of Don Ready should be read for such assumptions. I am pretty sure that Piven revels in it.

Piven’s Don Ready isn’t the only culprit here. Car salespeople all take a festive lampooning in THE GOODS. Ben Selleck (James Brolin), of Selleck’s Motors has seen his car lot reduced to a place of violent confrontations and vulgar silliness. When he tells Wade Zooha (Arrested Development’s Tony Hale) that he is thinking about calling in a mercenary to sell some cars, Wade’s reaction is paranoid panic. It should be. The business card that Ben pulls out of his wallet simply says, “Don Ready – I move cars, M*therfucker.” Piven hasn’t even been onscreen yet, and Don Ready is already introduced as a crude problem-solver.

When Ready takes Selleck’s phone call in an Arizona stripclub/breakfast bar, we get to meet the rest of his scruffy team. They are undeniably ugly-spirited. There is Babs (Kathryn Hahn) who uses sophisticated pornographic suggestions to sell cars. Then there is Brent Gage (David Koechner) a morally ambiguous, quasi-racist on a strange ego-trip. Lastly there is Jibby (Ving Rhames) an aging, soulful ladies man who has never actually “made love” to a woman. The team “still smells like customer” from slanging “metal,” but Ready commits them all to a Fourth of July weekend sale at Selleck’s Motors in Temecula, California.

Free hot dogs and an inflatable gorilla attract a crush of potential buyers reminiscent of the running zombies in Snyder’s DAWN OF THE DEAD. The sales are on, and the questionable antics of all of the sales team bleed to the surface for the rest of the film. As an ensemble comedy, this is where the movie really shines.

Don Ready and crew all have personal revelations as the film progresses. Ready’s team continually references “The Kirk” which is a mysterious piece of recent history that almost destroyed Don Ready. The story behind “The Kirk” is undoubtedly the funniest most irreverent, twisted gag of the film. It features an uncredited Will Ferrell appearance and is what this film will be most remembered for.

THE GOODS is the kind of comedy that just might land itself a strong cult following. The cast is large and they are all doing what they do best. Ed Helms plays Paxton Hardy, a grown man in an all boy band. His shtick isn’t that far off of what he does when he plays Andy Bernard on THE OFFICE. Another OFFICE regular, Craig Robinson plays Deejay Replay, a character similar to Darryl, the role he plays in THE OFFICE. The familiar pacing of the actors makes the whole production move forward smoothly and naturally. There was an obvious chemistry between all of the cast members.

THE GOODS will make you laugh out loud. There is new life in Hollywood for the R-rated comedy. OLD SCHOOL, THE HANGOVER, THE 40 YEAR OLD VIRGIN and ZACH AN MIRI MAKE A PORNO are all examples of the new R-rated comedy ensemble film. I would go so far as to call THE GOODS a contemporary CADDYSHACK.

Overall the film is raunchy and bad-mannered, yet somehow a few morals regarding personal commitments and universal value systems were slipped into the raucous storyline. The didactic elements work to balance the portrayals of decrepit characters with blown moral compasses. Without them the film would just be too ugly. THE GOODS is badass. It is rough around the edges and pushes the envelope far but not off the table.
-Mediasaurus Rex