Early on in the course of The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard Don Ready (Jeremy Piven) describes himself this way: “I have hair on my balls and I sell cars. The end.” That’s should also have summed up the film’s premise. There are some ball jokes and more than a few cars sold, but after fifteen minutes or so it might have been a good time to say “the end.” Instead the The Goods drags on for another forty-five minutes, the fond memories of big, irreverent, raunchy laughs to be had in the first fifteen rapidly fading in the face of overwhelming boredom.
But first there’s Don Ready and his crew of car-selling misfits. They’re hired guns, a crew of traveling salesman brought in by car dealerships to push product in a time of need. They’re like car sales superheroes, the best in the business. We’re introduced to them eating shitty food in a strip club, before they hop a plane to a car dealership in the middle of nowhere and the script invents some bullshit excuse for a non-existent, meaningless competition. Once the competition starts my eyes glazed over, but before that it’s simply Jeremy Piven and a cast of hilarious character actors strutting around on screen earning laughs with shouting matches, depraved behavior, and slick salesmanship.
Once the players are in place though, The Goods simply runs out of gas. The great characters it’s gone through so much trouble to create have nowhere to go and nothing to do. They wander around a car lot reciting jokes which seem as though someone wrote them in 2002 and then forgot to update them before tossing them in a script being used on a movie to be released in 2009. The bulk of The Goods exists in a world where people still care about boy bands and Bo Bice is the hot new thing on American Idol. It’s full of old ideas and lame, effed out references which feel as though they’ve been stolen from reruns of South Park.
None of this is really the fault of the film’s cast. They’re just stuck with a moldy script. The only reason the first fifteen minutes work as well as they do is because they’re less reliant on the movie’s horrible plot. They come together in a manner that’s almost like freebasing cocaine, an open arena for snorting strange character improvisation and inappropriate behavior with strippers up with a hastily improvised straw. Will Ferrell’s brief cameo is easily the funniest thing in the entire movie and it works because it has nothing to do with the plot, it’s just a ridiculous excuse to get him in a Lincoln outfit holding a dildo. It’s only when The Goods actually has to tell a story that it blows a gasket, conversely in moments when they toss aside the plot for something unusually stupid, you might find a reason to laugh.
It’s as if The Goods wants to be Anchorman, when it really should have been Step Brothers. There’s no story here, just a bunch of idiots trapped together on a car lot. Exploring that might have been fun, watching Don Ready abandon everything that made him funny in a hollow competition for empty romance is not.