A film review by Craig J. Koban August 18, 2009
THE GOODS: LIVE HARD. SELL HARD.
2009, R, 89 mins.
2009, R, 89 mins.
Don Ready: Jeremy Piven / Jibby Newsome: Ving Rhames / Ben
Selleck: James Brolin /
"A-B-C. A-Always, B-Be, C-Closing. Always be closing. ALWAYS BE CLOSING."
- Blake (Alec Baldwin) in "GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS"
sales is a sometimes grueling and utterly thankless profession.
It’s also one of the least glamorous and spat on occupations.
It’s tough work. Damn
tough work. It requires one to project a sense of knowledge, confidence, and
understanding with customers if there is any chance at all of making
a sale and securing an income. When
your ability to put food on the table and pay the rent is solely
predicated on closing a sale…then it sure makes you care about your job
that much more.
new comedy THE GOODS: LIVE HARD. SELL HARD. is set in the world of used
car/commission sales and it is that particular clan of salesmen
that are often held in the same low level of worth as politicians and lawyers.
They are sort of like “hustlers”, which may
seem like a broad generalization, but it certainly has a grain of truth in
regards to some. Their job is
that of a shady propagator: They need to convince their customers that the car they are trying
to sell them – warts and all – is a gem of a beauty that will
fit their needs and budget like a proverbial glove.
As for the merchandise itself?
It does not really matter. The
car itself could be a worn-out lemon that is barely street legal, but
that's redundant. The
men and women that peddle these scraps of dilapidated metal are selling their image
and charm – and if they can win unassuming customers over with their
killer smiles, enthusiasm, and the “goods” to deliver, then the
commission sale is essentially won.
GOODS is a frequently crass, potty mouthed, militantly un-PC, and, yes, an
funny, hard R-rated comedy that shows an understanding for commission
salesmen…even when the film is covered in a infectious glow of unbridled
ridiculousness and nonsensical comic lunacy.
It’s kind of an offbeat and cheerfully irreverent homogenization
of USED CARS and GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS, with perhaps a bit more emphasis on
the latter in the way it shows the ruthless determination and
double-dealing methods salesman use to score big a pay check.
Just how seedy, corrupt and, let’s face it, efficient are these
salesman? Let’s just say
that - in a hilarious opening sequence - we have one of the men using all of
his wily and arrogant charisma and clever use of language to convince a
stewardess on an airplane why its morally right and American to be able
to allow him to smoke on board while in flight. Not only does this smooth talking slickster convince the stewardess to allow him
to light up, but he eventually commanders the entire flight and turns it into
an wild party complete with a mariachi band.
confidence-man in question is a professional salesmen named Don “The Goods”
Ready, who is played in one of those perfectly tailored, trash
talking performances of greasy machismo by the great Jeremy Piven, who has
specializes in this type of role with his multiple Emmy-nominated work on
HBO’s ENTOURAGE. Don is not a regular salesman.
No sir. This guy is a
mercenary-like tactician that goes into every sales opportunity with a
wild-eyed and battle-ready precision.
Don is such a calculating and intricately verbose man that he could
sell snow to an Eskimo. When’s
he’s on his A-game, he’s an unstoppable motor-mouthed force that never
One thing to note is that he does not sell at any particular car dealership. Rather, he goes from one dealership to the next with his fearless, resolute, and loyal squadron of fellow salesman that are hired to use their expertise to get them out of a money jam...and then proceed to the next big score. Don’s partner’s is comprised of the sexy, but tough as nails Babs (Kathryn Hahn), the “money man” Brent (David Koechner) who can get anyone credit, and Jibby (Ving Rhames). As committed and strong as the group are in their occupations, they are definitely not angels. When they receive an offer from a struggling car dealership owner in Temecula named Ben Selleck (James Brolin), the only thing stopping them from immediately going to his rescue is fear of missing the last leg of their lap dances at a local strip joint. The lap dances also coincides with their morning breakfast. Hmmmm...this is a really convenient joint...an establishment that gives new meaning to words squat and gobble.
runs a fairly ramshackle car lot that one of Dan's cronies - upon
first seeing it - hilariously describes as a “refugee
camp for dirty men.” Some
of these men working for the naïve and ignorant Selleck are certainly not cut
out for commission sales. One
of them, Dick (played by Charles Napier) is an elderly salesman that
enjoys punching out customers and spouting out ethnic slurs against gays,
Asians, and just about everyone else that he despises more than he enjoys selling cars.
Another hopeless sales outcast, Teddy (played by Ken Jeong, who was
monstrously funny in
KNOCKED UP, ROLE MODELS, and recently
THE HANGOVER) is so clueless that,
at one point, he
does not know that the money he just took from a customer – which came
in a large and paint tagged bank bag – explodes in his face when he
opens it after the customer has merrily sped away with his new car.
Even worse, he is the victim of Dick’s evil glares, seeing as
he believes that Teddy started Pearl Harbor, despite the
fact that Teddy is Korean and certainly had very little to do with the
infamous sneak attack on American soldiers.
Selleck’s dealership is facing some serious financial strains: First, his beleaguered and ill-prepared crew of salesmen are
woefully underperforming. Secondly,
he must sell off all of his cars on the lot over the three day Fourth of
July weekend in order to stop the sale of the lot to a greedy, more
manipulative, and wealthier car dealer named Stu Harding (played
by…yup…Alan Thicke, which has to be his first downright villain
has vast ambitions after he buys Don’s lot, one of which is to allow his
son, played hilariously by Ed Helms, and his buddies a larger area to
practice their musical act. Helms
and his bro-mates have formed a man-band…which essentially is a boy band
with men that should in no way whatsoever be in a boy band.
sets off the rest of the plot in motion as we see Don and his team
whip of Selleck’s salesmen into proper shape so that they can sell off
hundreds of cars - in questionable shape - in 72 hours. The
weekend does not go off without a hitch, especially when Don and the rest
of the salesmen viciously accost Teddy in a fit of
rampant, patriotic fervor before the lot opens (remember: Dick thinks
Teddy is a "Jap"). Don
tries to defuse the situation quickly as any sharp witted hustler would: “We have all just participated in
a hate crime…let’s get our stories straight: Teddy came at us with a
samurai sword, a fire extinguisher, and Chinese throwing stars.”
Teddy, as miraculous as it seems, is so impressed with the
preposterousness of Don's story that it leads to him ultimately
apologizing to the whole
rest of THE GOODS motors along with that same sense of reckless and carefree
comic abandon. The film has a
real undisputed lowbrow zeal for making us laugh via any inane means
necessary. I must admit to
giggling often, especially at one subplot that involves the Selleck’s
son, played hilariously by THE DAILY SHOW’S Rob Riggle, who is only
10-years-old, despite outwardly appearing like a thirtysomething...Rob
Riggle. The “kid” is
revealed as having a very rare pituitary gland issue that makes him look twenty to
thirty years older than he is.
No matter, because Babs becomes utterly infatuated with the
“boy”, even though she understands that he’s not even a teen. In her eyes, it's not child abuse, especially when the
he looks more than able to fulfill her womanly needs.
There are several other moments of spirited hilarity. A specially made Don Ready-helmed car commercial that is used to plug Ben’s dealership is a riot, seeing as it advertises the owner as falsely suffering from "cancer of the nads", which Don hopes will inspire people to rush down and buy cars out of sympathy. Then there is a very sly sequence involving a riot on the lot that ensues after Eric Bice fails to show up for a big celebrity appearance at the dealership. Who’s Eric Bice, you may ask? Well, he’s the brother to American Idol contestant Bo Bice, silly. I also liked Craig Robinson’s take on a very, very disturbed DJ hired by Don who definitely does not take any – and I mean any – song requests. Rarely have DJs been so emotionally guarded.
scenes in particular are insidious howlers: The first shows how Babs
successfully convinces a red-necked pervert that he must buy the clunker
that she’s trying to sell him by shrewdly implanting a fantasy in his mind that
he’ll need it so that he can drive to her place to take part in a four way sex
orgy with her and her friends. Then
there is an unmistakably sidesplitting cameo by Will Ferrell (also the
film’s producer) who miraculously gets huge laughs from the most random
of words. No other actor on
the planet would be able to make a scene involving a character falling to
his death out of an airplane as funny as he does.
“I know,” screams the plummeting Ferrell, “I will roll into
an aerodynamic ball and use this dildo to cushion my fall!”
It does not get more comically absurd than that.
It does not get more comically absurd than that.
all of THE GOODS is successful: for every great joke and gag that works
there are others that fall stupendously flat.
Then there is also a really dull and monotonous subplot involving
Don trying to woe Ed Helm’s pretty girlfriend (played blandly by Jordana
Spiro) that is on pure, boring autopilot. Also
lame and more than a bit unnecessary is a creepy running gag involving
the aging Selleck lusting after Brent, who seems to turn him on with minimal
fuss (oh…Selleck’s a closeted gay…hardy-har).
Yet, even though the laughs are largely scattered throughout THE
GOODS, there is nonetheless enough crazy energy and unrefined and uncompromisingly bawdy guffaws for a moderate recommendation on my part.
THE GOODS never tries to hide away from its façade that it is
decidedly lowbrow, silly, and vulgar…but it's agreeable in mild
dosages. For the most
part…it had me sold.