August 14, 2009 / 1:46 AM / 10 years ago

Jeremy Piven can't sell "The Goods"

Actor Jeremy Piven arrives at the special presentation screening of the film "RocknRolla" at the 33rd Toronto International Film Festival, September 4, 2008. REUTERS/ Mike Cassese

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Talk about being handed a bill of Goods.

The advertising and promotional materials for “The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard,” assert that it is “a new comedy from the makers of ‘Talladega Nights’ and ‘Step Brothers.’” But those makers in question wouldn’t be the director (feature first-timer Neal Brennan) or the screenwriters (Andy Stock & Rick Stempson, who penned the direct-to-DVD effort “Balls Out: Gary the Tennis Coach”) or even the studio.

They would be referring to director Adam McKay and his writing partner Will Ferrell, who only take a producing role in this forced, tediously one-note comedy that has the attitude but none of the comic charm of those other pictures.

Despite the presence of Jeremy Piven as a maverick car dealer accompanied by a proven comic entourage, few will plunk down cash for this Paramount Vantage clunker when it opens on Friday.

Piven’s Don “The Goods” Ready is a hard-living cowboy of a used-car salesman whose team of metal-moving mercenaries is dispatched to Temecula, Calif., to save James Brolin’s ailing, family-owned dealership. The game plan is to liquidate his entire inventory in just three days or see the lot taken over by Brolin’s longtime competitor Alan Thicke.

Naturally the gonzo Ready and his team, including Ving Rhames, Kathryn Hahn and David Koechner, are prepared to pull out all stops to save the enterprise, and so are the filmmakers, which is a big part of the movie’s problem.

Brennan, a co-creator of “Chappelle’s Show,” takes a relentless approach to the trying-way-too-hard-to-be-politically-incorrect material, pounding the viewer into submission but not in a particularly amused way. What might have worked as a TV sketch or one of McKay and Ferrell’s terrific “Funny or Die” shorts, quickly loses its potency over the course of a feature-length running time.

Although the cast’s up to the comic task, especially an unbilled Ferrell as a former member of Ready’s team who met an unfortunate, but undeniably funny demise, “The Goods” consistently fails to deliver.

Editing by DGoodman at Reuters

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