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'The Goods' is one car comedy that needed more time in the shop

As a used car comedy, The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard isn't a clunker but doesn't deserve paying full sticker price. It's another aggressively offensive joke engine that'll find its niche on home video at a fraction of the cost.

Outrageously game actors led by Jeremy Piven in full jerk effect fully intend to force laughter, no matter how raunchy the gags may be. I don't know about you but seeing James Brolin proudly display an exaggerated pants bulge to a man he's seducing isn't what I expect from Mr. Barbra Streisand. Shock is a vital element of The Goods, with diminishing returns as a thin plot proceeds.

Brolin plays Ben Selleck, owner of a struggling used car lot needing a strong sales weekend to survive. He calls Don Ready (Piven), a "mercenary" with a rule-skirting sales staff specializing in rescuing dealerships. Piven plays it similar to his Entourage heel, Ari Gold, with no holds barred and no strip club skipped, talking fast out of both sides of his mouth.

Don's crew includes Jibby (Ving Rhames), a sex addict who'd like to make love just once, right-hand man Brent (David Koechner) and Babs (Kathryn Hahn), who uses sex appeal as a selling tool. She's cringingly, hilariously, turned on by Selleck's son (Rob Riggle), a 10-year-old with a Marine's body. Customers attracted by free hot dogs and the promise of Bo Bice's brother performing don't stand a chance.

Director Neal Brennan handles the shenanigans well, although by day 2 of the Fourth of July weekend sale the best material, like Selleck's inventory, is exhausted. How does Brennan keep the jokes coming? Volume, as in too many side characters with too much to do and yelling while doing it. A love triangle with Don, Selleck's daughter (Jordana Spiros) and her fiance (Ed Helms) doesn't surprise, and a subplot about Don's illegitimate son goes nowhere.

What shocks me most about The Goods is the sinking feeling in my gut when Will Ferrell (who co-produced) makes a cameo appearance. Did Land of the Lost and his incessant self-promotion really leave such a bad impression? Ferrell is one face this summer that I could do without seeing for a while. He's the raccoon tail on the antenna of a rusty, lusty, high mileage comedy.

Steve Persall can be reached at persall@sptimes.com or (727) 8893-8365. Read his blog, Reeling in the Years, at blogs.tampabay.com/movies.

The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard

Grade: B-

Director: Neal Brennan

Cast: Jeremy Piven, Ving Rhames, James Brolin, David Koechner, Kathryn Hahn, Ed Helms, Jordana Spiros, Alan Thicke, Rob Riggle, Ken Jeong

Screenplay: Andy Stock, Rick Stempson

Rating: R; strong profanity, sexual content, nudity, drug and alcohol abuse

Running time: 90 min.

'The Goods' is one car comedy that needed more time in the shop 08/13/09 [Last modified: Thursday, August 13, 2009 5:20pm]

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