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Movies Review

The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard

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The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard
Released on Friday, Oct 23 2009

Director: Neal Brennan
Screenwriters: Andy Stock, Rick Stempson
Starring: Jeremy Piven, Ving Rhames, James Brolin, David Koechner, Kathryn Hahn, Ed Helms, Will Ferrell, Jordana Spiro, Charles Napier
Running Time: 89 mins
Certificate: 15

The world of sleazy, no-good car salesmen seems like it should be ripe with comic potential for an established big screen partnership such as Will Ferrell and Adam McKay (Anchorman, Talladega Nights, Step Brothers). However, the duo, who are on production duties on The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard, have fallen short of their highest standards with this deliberately provocative and un-PC outing. Despite the best efforts of a stellar cast and a show-stealing Ferrell cameo, this movie is more of a clapped-out old rust bucket than a shiny new Lamborghini.

Selleck Motors is a struggling car showroom, whose owner Ben Selleck (Brolin) has all but given up on his family business. With a rag-tag selection of staff, which includes a bigoted war veteran and a camp balloon lover, he gives it one last shot at saving himself from bankruptcy by hiring infamous car salesman for-hire Don 'The Goods' Ready (Piven), whose crack team includes the highly-sexualised Babs Merrick (Hahn), veteran bowler Jibby Newsome (Rhames) and numbers wizard Brent Gage (Koechner).

Ready's unusual but effective methods, which include hiring lapdancers, DJs and offering free hot dogs, soon brings in the punters, but Selleck Motors face a new threat from local competitors the Hardings. Paxton Harding (Helms) wants his father to buy Selleck Motors for rehearsal space for his N'Sync-style man-band The Big Ups, so he persuades him to make an offer on the business. A downbeat Selleck initially accepts the cash, but is persuaded to decline the offer by Ready, who promises that he can flog every car in the lot. Inspired by his growing affection for Selleck's daughter and Paxton's finaceé Ivy (Spiro), Ready faces his toughest ever sales challenge.

As you may have already gathered, the plot of The Goods comes secondary to ramming the film to the brim with crude humour and sex gags. Director Neal Brennan and the relatively inexperienced writers Andy Stock and Rick Stempson fail to hold together this rather limp plot. The feeble backstory about Ready's 'President's Day incident' in Albuquerque is only saved by the aforementioned appearance from Ferrell, who bizarrely ends up plunging to his death holding a pink dildo. The Goods comes across like the results of a intensive brainstorming session, but sadly nobody has taken the time to edit out the weaker material.

This is a genuine shame because in David Koechner, Entourage star Jeremy Piven and in particular Ed Helms, there is potential comedy gold. Helms's desperate boyband wannabe ("We supported O-Town!", "The Backstreet Boys came along and revolutionised music") steals the few scenes he's in, while Piven makes a likable leading man, finding the middle ground between Adam Sandler/Will Ferrell wackiness and a Vince Vaughn/Steve Carrell everyman. However, the kitchen sink approach to the script means that their performances are easily lost among a plethora of half-baked set pieces and deliberate attempts to provoke outrage.

Whether it's Kathryn Hahn's character Babs flashing her assets as she attempts to lure a man-child (a 10-year-old boy inside an adults body) into sleeping with her, or Charles Napier shouting out random bursts of racist and sexist abuse as the bigoted senior staff member Dick Lewiston, the jokes are too contrived to raise anything more than an occasional smirk. The apparent obsession with un-PC jokes is childish and ultimately futile as in practically every instance the joke has been done before, and better. On paper, The Goods had the potential to be The Next Anchorman, but unfortunately somewhere in the drawing room, someone decided to pursue cheap laughs over something more substantial.

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