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The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard (2009)

(R) 89 mins

Plot Summary: When businesses are failing, they call in Don Ready (Jeremy Piven), a fast-talking closer who can sell anything to anybody. Hired to rescue a flagging auto dealership during a Fourth-of-July sale, Don spends his days on the lot and his nights at local strip clubs. Everything’s going swimmingly … until he gets blindsided by love. Ving Rhames and Kathryn Hahn co-star in this comedy from Chappelle’s Show producer Neal Brennan.

Director: Neal Brennan

Writers: Andy StockRick Stempson

Serious Jest:  (Don’t Bother)  GREAT cast (in addition to the ones mentioned above), with some funny jokes, a solid concept, and great comedic timing (the latter which I expected, since Chappelle’s Show, of which Brennan was the co-creator, was extremely good at that)…so why didn’t I stay laughing?  Why was I ready for this movie to be over halfway through?  I think I figured it out: Piven was not a good fit for his role as the namesake and centerpiece of the film.  Don Ready is supposed to be a salesman who is confident to a ridiculous and often-oblivious degree.  What makes Piven so convincing and awesome as Ari Gold on Entourage is that he is anything but oblivious; he has a great deal of situational awareness, but often acts like an A-hole out of necessity.  Piven is a good actor, but is better suited to roles that give off humor as a by-product; he is not a funnyman in the sense that you just place him center stage, let him babble, and watch amazingly-funny stuff roll out of his mouth, like Will Ferrell in Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy or Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby.  In fact, I couldn’t help thinking during the movie that Piven and Ferrell should have switched parts.

Another thing that killed this movie was that, while many of the jokes were very well written, the sales speeches themselves, especially Piven’s, were average at best.  If you’re going to present a movie about the best car salesmen in the business, your dialogue during those sales, or the sales methods, better be incredible.  I should finish that movie thinking, “Damn, that was a serious speech!  I wanted to buy that car!”  Instead, I thought the writers got lazy with the speeches; I saw a better car-sale dialogue on Friday Night Lights during Jason Street’s brief stint at Buddy’s dealership.  The Goods’s writers should have gone to the best real-life car salesmen in the business and solicited stories about the best real-life sales performances they ever saw.  I bet you there are some real interesting stories out there.

All in all, this movie came very close to 3 mugs on the strength of the great supporting-cast performance, even the ones who didn’t get top billing.  Craig Robinson stole the show as D.J. Request; and Ken Jeong, Ed Helms, and Ferrell (as well as the others whom I’ve omitted for brevity) were also hilarious.  I wouldn’t recommend you spend time watching this movie, but if you are bored, are doing something else while watching, or go in with low expectations, you will probably get some enjoyment out of it.

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About Serious Jest

Film & TV Reviewer by Choice, Attorney at Law, Marine to the Corps (excuse the pun), Nupe Under Pressure, and MC by Nature

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