The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard (Paramount Vantage, R)

film_the-goods_sm.jpgThe highest honor would have to be given to the person who made The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard appear hilarious in the trailer because it is, in fact, the least funny movie of the summer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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For years I’ve said that movie trailer editors deserve to have some type of accolades bestowed on them from the industry to acknowledge the hard work they do on the most important aspect in a movie’s marketing campaign. While many studios are getting wise to guerilla marketing and teaser techniques on websites, most moviegoers still count on the trailer to convince them of whether or not they want to see a movie. If there were such an award for these talented individuals, the highest honor would have to be given to the person who made The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard appear hilarious in the trailer because it is, in fact, the least funny movie of the summer.

The plot is literally set up in the first five minutes, as the movie ignores all exposition or character, development choosing instead to squeeze every scatological reference imaginable into every scene. Selleck Motors, a used-car dealership in California, is going under because of the less-than-stellar sales team, which includes a racist, misogynistic veteran and a guy who is thrilled with someone who pays for a car with cash, neatly wrapped inside a bank bag.

Out of desperation, the owner, Ben Selleck (James Brolin), hires Don Ready (Jeremy Piven) and his crew to sell as many cars as possible over the Fourth of July weekend. Why Selleck would have Ready’s card so easily accessible seems strange, since Selleck has been selling cars successfully for 30 years. Even though Ready and Co. have been on the road for over a year, they head to their next job and descend on Selleck and his ragtag group of salesmen.

The rest of the movie hangs its entire premise on the hope that the audience will be distracted by the comedic talent in the movie and won’t notice the lack of story. Piven is, of course, terrific as Ready because he is most impressive as the fast-talking, persuasive, confident guy who can convince you of anything. Piven is essentially Ari Gold, his character from Entourage, but without the outbursts of anger. The difference here, though, is Piven knows the movie is awful but does his best to give a good performance without his boredom showing through.

Director Neal Brennan, whose only experience prior to The Goods is directing episodes of Chapelle’s Show, is obviously overwhelmed by the size of the movie. He struggles to find any central story to focus on and practically kills every joke by beating into the ground repeatedly. The rest of the cast is made up of B-list comedic actors who do their best to add some degree of humor to this utterly disappointing movie, but Brennan doesn’t seem to notice that none of the jokes land and many become obnoxious. It feels like Brennan was too intimated by his actors to suggest any type of direction at all.

The script is from screenwriters Andy Stock and Rick Stempson, who thankfully have nothing else in the works, according to IMDB. How they managed to pitch this to a studio and have it produced can only be described as a miracle. The movie is being marketed as from "the guys who brought you Talladega Nights," which is true since it’s produced by Will Ferrell and Adam McKay. Instead of anything near that caliber, though, The Goods feels more like a regurgitation of a style of comedy that should have gone straight to DVD. | Matthew F. Newlin

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