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The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard

The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard

Rated R, 90 min. Directed by Neal Brennan. Starring Jeremy Piven, Ving Rhames, James Brolin, David Koechner, Kathryn Hahn, Jordana Spiro, Ed Helms, Rob Riggle, Alan Thicke, Charles Napier, Jonathan Sadowski, Ken Jeong, Craig Robinson, Wendie Malick.

REVIEWED By Marjorie Baumgarten, Fri., Aug. 14, 2009

Despite a rotten title and a bottomless reserve of cynical, scattershot humor, The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard is a swift-moving, equal-opportunity offender about a team of used-car liquidators hired to save a Temecula, Calif., dealership from bankruptcy with a Fourth of July weekend blowout sale. Deriving much of its energy from Piven’s tightly wound Don Ready, head of the liquidation crew, the film flings about insults and crass jokes with the abandon of a more Middle-American-seeming Ari Gold (Piven’s character on Entourage). Although it treads much of the same ground, this comedy is no Used Cars, the 1980 standard-bearer of car-dealership comedies. However, The Goods’ retreads ought to pick up some quick mileage at the box office before running out of gas. Ready, whose business card reads, “I Move Cars, Motherfucker,” is contacted while eating breakfast in a strip club with his three-person crew (Rhames, Koechner, and Hahn). Off they go to Temecula, despite carrying (as they so tastefully describe it) the stink of customers left over from their just-completed job. Once there, they find a car lot whose characters are just as screwed up as they are, only in different, less cynical ways. Ben Selleck (Brolin), the owner of Temecula’s Selleck Motors, gets an instant hard-on for Ready’s loan specialist Brent Gage (Koechner), his daughter Ivy (Spiro) is engaged to a doofus from the town’s import-car scion (Helms), and his son Peter (Riggle) is a 10-year-old boy trapped in a 30-year-old man’s body. Much humor is derived from the sexual overtures Babs (Hahn) makes toward the boy. An unbilled Will Ferrell, a co-producer along with Gary Sanchez Productions partners Adam McKay and Chris Henchy, also makes a goofy extended cameo. First-time director Brennan manages to keep a tight rein on this galloping sprawl, a strategy he may have honed as a writer and producer of the brilliant but chaotic Chappelle’s Show. The film’s tone, however, never fully congeals. The script by Andy Stock and Rick Stempson (Balls Out: Gary the Tennis Coach) can, at times, be a nasty piece of work, and no amount of laughter will fully obscure the gag reflex that occasionally forms in the back of your throat.
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