THE GOODS review by Gary Dean Murray Aug 13, 2009 4:34:13 GMT -5
Post by BIGFANBOY on Aug 13, 2009 4:34:13 GMT -5
Review by Gary Dean Murray
Jeremy Piven is an actor more infamous than famous. His run-ins with different Hollywood bad boys is stuff of a burgeoning legend. While he is fodder for the tabloids, his successes in front of the camera have never truly measured up to his lifestyle. That all may change with his new film The Goods, a solid comedy in the mold of all those 1970's flicks that made heroes of comic icons.
Piven stars as Don Ready, a hired gun in the car industry. If your lot isn't selling the way you want, you call him and his team in to boost sales and salesmen. The dealership that needs help is Selleck Motors, a family run used car lot in Temecula, CA run by Ben Selleck (James Brolin). His family consists of a love ly wife (Wendi Malick), smoking hot girl-next-door daughter Ivy (Jordana Spiro) and man child son (the always great Rob Riggle).
The daughter has a beau named Paxton (Ed Helms). It seems that his dad runs the other big dealership in town and Paxton wants to destroy his competition just so his 'Man Band' Big Ups can have a rehearsal space.
Don Ready is a hard drinking, party animal who is more at home in strip bars than in homes. He is a fast food eating child who lives 51 ½ weeks a year on the road, racking up gold card status with low grade hotel chains. His team consists of a token bald guy second-in-command Brent (David Koechner) more interested in numbers, the token black guy Jibby (Ving Rhames) more interested in love and the token woman guy Babs (Kathryn Hahn) more interested in other women. They are a family of sorts, relying on each other more and more.
The Ready team agrees to sell all 211 cars on the lot during the July 4th weekend in order to save the business from the evil clutches of Paxton and his father (Alan Thicke). We have all the players and the weak plot motive, so what happens next? They sell cars.
Added on to the film is a back story. Haunting Don is the ghost of what happened to him in Albuquerque, something that he never want to discuss with the locals. It does manifest itself into one of the best cameos of the season.
We have all are elements but what we don't have is a compelling story. The entire film is of the weekend where the team sells cars and wins fans with the local sales guys. We learn all the tricks of the trade and every ringing of the sales bell is just another step closer to our goal. Early on we learn that Auto Trader is just a Myspace for serial killers. We also learn that it helps to have strippers and Disc Jockeys on the lot to boost sales. And a riot doesn't hurt.
There are tons of comedy members from The Daily Show, The Office and Arrested Development all given moments to take it to the next level. For the most part they all get a solid chance to deliver laughs, but the exercise is more like a series of skits than a complete functioning structured story.
The biggest problem with The Goods is that Jeremy Piven just isn't an appealing character. He's got the smarmy down, just not the sympathy. There needs to be an under current of want with the performance, a reason to care. Either Jeremy doesn't have that in his inner being or the writing team of
Andy Stock and Rick Stempson didn't see the need to have it. Without us truly caring about the lead, it doesn't give us a reason to care about any of the other characters on the screen. The 'us vs. them' underdog struggle never has a fruition. You neither hate the 'bad guys' nor love the 'good guys'.
Director Neal Brennan does a great job of capturing the comedy, letting his seasoned comics do their best work. His is a light touch, much in the vein of John Landis, giving his strong supporting cast a loose rein to deliver some manic moments. But, there are people like Wendi Malick and Alan Thicke who are not used for any comedic purpose. They are there but not to make it funnier, a true waste of talent.
When I first saw the notices for The Goods, I feared it was just going to be a rehash of Used Cars, one of the funniest films and best constructed comedy stories every conceived. While not in that league of raunchy behavior, it does latch on to the R rating. This is not a film for kids. I had very low expectations of The Goods, but it did deliver some solid laughs and is a nice summer diversion.
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