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The Goods : Live Hard, Sell Hard

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Caffeinated Clint
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Clint is the creator, editor and maintainer of Moviehole.

By Clint Morris

I love Jeremy Piven I really do… 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 doesn’t quite cut it out as a lead – as you’ll discover with the so-so “The Goods : Live Hard : Sell Hard”.

As good as Piven is on TVs “Entourage” (it’s actually hard to see him as anyone other than brash agent Ari, now – a testament to his fine performance on the HBO hit), he seemed much more at home playing second fiddle… or make that third, or fourth, fiddle… to the likes of John Cusack (“Grosse Pointe Blank”, “Say Anything”, “Runaway Jury”), Emilio Estevez (“Judgment Night”), Nicolas Cage (“The Family Man”), and Jackie Chan (“Rush Hour 2”). The guy’s a good actor… but unless he’s shouting at Lloyd, abusing Andrew Klein, or using every shonky tactic in his book to get Vinnie Chase a job, he ain’t easy to watch for an hour-and-a-half.

“The Goods”, directed by TV comedy vet Neal Brennan (“Chappelle’s Show”), is the cinematic equivalent to everyone’s first car – it’s cheap, it gets you from A to B, and it’s fun while it’s going… but it’s immerse with problems, and far from a smooth ride. And eventually it conks out. Piven handles it rather well, but he’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 – 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 there’s no heart in it. Yeah, sure, it’s supposed to a crazy, crude, raunchy comedy – but even they encompass not only a point, but usually a warm message or two. But “The Goods” seems content with just being silly… for silly’s sake. And it gets tiring. It’s unfortunate this it doesn’t come close to being an Apatow comedy, nor even the type of flick you usually get from producer Adam McKay (“Step Brothers”, “Talladega Nights”), because it should’ve – considering the creative team behind the thing. Director Brennan has proved he can craft a great joke, being a writer on the side-splitting “Chappelle’s Show”; the usually-dependable Will Ferrell is a producer on it,; and some of today’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 – 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 Howard’s “Working Class Man” – 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 – including Ed Helms (“The Hangover”), Ving Rhames, David Koechner, Kathryn Hahn, Craig Robinson, and vets Alan Thicke and James Brolin – which doesn’t say a lot for the film, being that he’s in every sequence.

This one doesn’t quite deliver “The Goods”… maybe you might want to shop around for a better deal?

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