Thursday, August 6, 2009

Piven Shows Us The Goods

Who is Don Ready? Salesman? Lover? Song Stylist? Semi-professional dolphin trainer? Ready is all of the above – except for a dolphin trainer. When he’s asked to help save an ailing local car dealership from bankruptcy, Ready and his ragtag crew descend on the town of Temecula like a pack of coyotes on a basket full of burgers. Selling, drinking, selling and going to strip clubs is their stock and trade. And they do it well. What Don doesn’t expect is to fall in love and find his soul in The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard.

Much of what works in "The Goods" works because the cast is on fire. Jeremy Piven is the right choice for Don Ready, a guy who is all confidence and bluster, with just a wee bit of animal panic behind the eyes. He's the center of the film, and by grounding it with his familiar Piven persona, he makes room for the rest of the cast to fully indulge their lunacy. Ving Rhames, so often used as a grounded sane presence, here gets to let loose a little as a man who just wants to make love one time in his life. Rough gig, Ving, especially considering who he ends up with. David Koechner keeps the freak on low simmer this time, and turns in a strong overall performance as a result. I quite liked the work by Alan Thicke and Ed Helms in the film as father and son. They're the "villains" of the piece, but they're not evil so much as they are self-absorbed. Helms is part of a boy ba... er, sorry... a "man band," and Thicke proudly supports his boy.

Maybe the dirtiest and craziest running joke in the film involves Kathryn Hahn and Rob Riggle. He plays the son of James Brolin, the car dealer who calls in Don Ready and his team, and although his character is only 10 years old, he's got a pituitary issue that makes him look like... well... Rob Riggle. That would be a funny character by itself, but when you add Hahn, who decides right away that she's going to fuck that ten year old, no matter what, things get truly filthy. Guys like Craig Robinson and Ken Jeong don't have a ton to do, but they make the most of every minute onscreen. James Brolin, as I mentioned, plays the role that could easily be the straight, boring, exposition heavy part, but his sexual fascination with David Koechner is so strange and Brolin's so up for the gag that it really makes him stand out. Even veteran character actor Charles Napier gets a few moments to really make the most of that cartoon character snarl of his. It really speaks well of Brennan that he makes room for everyone in the film, and he knows how to play off each one of the characters. "The Goods" isn't going to revolutionize comedy, but it does exactly what a good comedy should: it focuses on laughs above all else. I don't watch a comedy because I want to see people growing and learning and having emotional epiphanies. I watch because I want outrageous exaggeration, and because I want to laugh. That's the release the best of these films offer, and in this particular case, regarding "The Goods," consider me sold. This gets a 3 on my "Go See" scale.

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