REVIEW: The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard [2009]

“Looks like a refugee camp for dirty men”

Sometimes you just have to get over the fact that a film needs a good/coherent plot to be a success and let the stupidity flow over you. This is exactly what I did when sitting down to watch The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard. You cannot argue the comedic talent involved, but you can make the point that Gary Sanchez Productions could bring the whole shebang down. I know I am in the minority on my feelings for Will Ferrell and his production team’s films, (Step Brothers being the only one I enjoy revisiting), but I’ll give the guys credit for going all out on the obscenity, absurdity, and down right immoral activities squeezed into this short and sweet mindless laughfest. Truly, some of the best moments are so indecipherable in anything resembling an intelligent discourse that laughing is the only sane response while you attempt to wrap your head around what happened. There’s a hate crime, there’s dildos falling from the sky, there’s a thirtysomething woman getting a ten-year old drunk in order to sodomize him, and countless other ‘memorable’ moments that strangely make wasting your time with this thing worthwhile.

In a so over-the-top that it works way, The Goods delivers just that. Towards the end it tries to get weighty in a “we need to redeem characters/make a point” kind of way, but I’ll forgive it. What the filmmakers forgot was that its complete lack of a moral center and plot coherency, beyond selling cars to serve as a backdrop for craziness, was what made it fun. Once you start to be something you are not, like making a sleazeball into a sensitive man, you lose the audience by slowing down what otherwise was a fast-paced gag show. So many funny instances are in lines said under people’s breath in response to what has happened, probably added in post. Craig Robinson’s schizophrenic, spoken out loud, inner monologues are gold in and of themselves too. When he begins to commentate a police raid to stop a riot, I couldn’t stop laughing. Talk about anger management issues, his turn on a dime facial expressions from pure anger to toothy smile make his bit part one of the most memorable. And that is really all this film is, a series of characters shoved together to play off of each other or shine alone.

You may want to go into a film and hope that the central plot is something to hold tight to and follow through with, but, honestly, who cares? Does it really matter if all the cars get sold from the fledgling Sellick Motors’ lot? Do we care if Don Ready finally wins over the innocent love interest with his crass confidence? Do we really want to know what atrocity happened in ‘Kirky’ so that we can delve deeper into the psyche of Ready? Hell no, we just want to hear the story because we assume it will deliver on humor … and it does with one of the few successful Will Ferrell cameos that I’ve seen, although it gets ruined by his return later in the film. Yes, we know that this ragtag bunch of losers, with the help of Ready’s foursome of car salesman mercenaries, have to push 211 automobiles in four days to save the dealership, but we are also aware that it’s all just a springboard for the ensuing insanity. I mean, come on, the reason Alan Thicke and Ed Helms want to buy the place is to set up a recording studio for the latter’s “man band”, (or as Jeremy Piven’s Ready says, his “man boy band”). We aren’t dealing with Wilde here.

Speaking of Piven, though, here is the reason for the film’s unlikely success. One can only stand lunacy without direction for so long, a charismatic leader is necessary to hold it all together. Piven is the glue here, spewing his absurd rhetoric to incite riots, animalistic aggression, or plain unadulterated fun. To watch him rile up an entire airplane to the point where they not only let him smoke, but also proceed to let loose, smoke pot, and have a communal ‘mile high club’ initiation is something to see. This is a guy that once traded his large bouncy ball kid toy for a tricked-out tricycle when he was a boy—he could sell spiders to an arachnophobic if given the chance. Sure some of his delusion inducing selling points are idiotic and poorly written, not to mention the imbeciles falling for it, but for some reason, when Piven is the one saying it, I’m pretty much ok with it all.

The supporting cast around our star does help make the film go round. Ving Rhames has some pretty awful lines to say, but he also has his share of funny moments too; Kathryn Hahn adds to her pedigree from Step Brothers by being the most macho woman out there while still retaining a ton of sex appeal; and David Koechner puts forth one of the best performances I’ve seen from him, (and playing off of James Brolin’s homosexual allusions doesn’t hurt either). Helms, Tony Hale, and Ken Jeong bring their usual brand of comedy—hopefully the trio will eventually be able to break from their respective schticks in the future—and Jordana Spiro worked well with them all, being the newcomer to me as I’ve never seen her show “My Boys” if it’s even still on the air. I also really liked Charles Napier’s malicious old man living in the past and firing up his temper whenever someone steps on his bigoted toes. They are all enjoyable, and for that reason alone I say give the film a try. No one is watching it for stimulating conversation points, it’s viewed to laugh a little and brighten your mood. For me, watching people say and do all the things I’d never be caught doing myself does just that.

The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard 6/10 | ★ ★ ½

[1] (Left to Right) Babs Merrick (Kathryn Hahn), Don Ready (Jeremy Piven), Jibby Newsome (Ving Rhames) and Brent Gage (David Koechner) are the best used-car sales team in the business, in the comedy “The Goods: Live Hard. Sell Hard.” Photo Credit: Sam Emerson. Copyright © 2009 by PARAMOUNT VANTAGE, a division of PARAMOUNT PICTURES CORPORATION. All Rights Reserved.
[2] (Left to Right) It’s a do or die weekend at Selleck Motors and everyone, including longtime salesmen Wade Zooha (Tony Hale), Teddy Dang (Ken Jeong) and Dick Lewiston (Charles Napier) know it, in the comedy “The Goods: Live Hard. Sell Hard.” Photo Credit: Sam Emerson. Copyright © 2009 by PARAMOUNT VANTAGE, a division of PARAMOUNT PICTURES CORPORATION. All Rights Reserved.


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