By Clint Morris
I love Jeremy Piven I really doâ€¦ or is that I love Ari Gold, and Jeremy Piven just happens to play him to a tee? Whatever the case, the serial supporting player doesnâ€™t quite cut it out as a lead â€“ as youâ€™ll discover with the so-so â€œThe Goods : Live Hard : Sell Hardâ€.
As good as Piven is on TVs â€œEntourageâ€ (itâ€™s actually hard to see him as anyone other than brash agent Ari, now â€“ a testament to his fine performance on the HBO hit), he seemed much more at home playing second fiddleâ€¦ or make that third, or fourth, fiddleâ€¦ to the likes of John Cusack (â€œGrosse Pointe Blankâ€, â€œSay Anythingâ€, â€œRunaway Juryâ€), Emilio Estevez (â€œJudgment Nightâ€), Nicolas Cage (â€œThe Family Manâ€), and Jackie Chan (â€œRush Hour 2â€). The guyâ€™s a good actorâ€¦ but unless heâ€™s shouting at Lloyd, abusing Andrew Klein, or using every shonky tactic in his book to get Vinnie Chase a job, he ainâ€™t easy to watch for an hour-and-a-half.
â€œThe Goodsâ€, directed by TV comedy vet Neal Brennan (â€œChappelleâ€™s Showâ€), is the cinematic equivalent to everyoneâ€™s first car â€“ itâ€™s cheap, it gets you from A to B, and itâ€™s fun while itâ€™s goingâ€¦ but itâ€™s immerse with problems, and far from a smooth ride. And eventually it conks out. Piven handles it rather well, but heâ€™s far from the rally-car driver this thing needed to stay on track a little longer.
The actor plays a more submissive, less supercilious version of Ari Gold â€“ in this case, an overconfident auto-yard liquidator whose recruited to sell a lot full of cars in three days. Don Ready (Piven) is the only guy for the job. His reputation precedes him. His swagger speaks volumes.
But as Don undertakes his newest mission, and quickly falls for the boss’s (James Brolin in a theatrical-release!) daughter Ivy (Jordana Spiro), he realizes he’ll have to trust more than his cars and his crafty skills in deceit to make a success out of the daunting weekend.
The main problem with script is that thereâ€™s no heart in it. Yeah, sure, itâ€™s supposed to a crazy, crude, raunchy comedy â€“ but even they encompass not only a point, but usually a warm message or two. But â€œThe Goodsâ€ seems content with just being sillyâ€¦ for silly’s sake. And it gets tiring. Itâ€™s unfortunate this it doesnâ€™t come close to being an Apatow comedy, nor even the type of flick you usually get from producer Adam McKay (â€œStep Brothersâ€, â€œTalladega Nightsâ€), because it shouldâ€™ve â€“ considering the creative team behind the thing. Director Brennan has proved he can craft a great joke, being a writer on the side-splitting â€œChappelleâ€™s Showâ€; the usually-dependable Will Ferrell is a producer on it,; and some of todayâ€™s best actors appear in the film – but none of them bring their A game here.
There are some good gags in here (some atrocious ones too â€“ a Will Ferrell cameo will evoke the sound of crickets) but nothing gut-bustingly funny. Even the story seems like a watered-down clone of Ron Howardâ€™s â€œWorking Class Manâ€ â€“ only with fart jokes in place of the warm-and-fuzzies. And Piven, though fine in the role of the gung-ho salesman, is upstaged by the large support cast â€“ including Ed Helms (â€œThe Hangoverâ€), Ving Rhames, David Koechner, Kathryn Hahn, Craig Robinson, and vets Alan Thicke and James Brolin â€“ which doesnâ€™t say a lot for the film, being that heâ€™s in every sequence.
This one doesnâ€™t quite deliver â€œThe Goodsâ€… maybe you might want to shop around for a better deal?