Reviews

The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard

The Goods' vulgarity is not new or clever or even comically shocking. It is, instead, prosaic and repetitive.


The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard

Director: Neal Brennan
Cast: Jeremy Piven, Ving Rhames, James Brolin, David Koechner, Kathryn Hahn, Jordana Spiro, Rob Riggle, Ed Helms, Alan Thicke
Rated: R
Studio: Paramount Vantage
Year: 2009
US date: 2009-08-14 (General release)
UK date: 2009-10-09 (General release)
Website
Trailer

Ivy (Jordana Spiro) is looking awfully stuck. Blond and clever and at least somewhat self-aware in a smug-comedy kind of way, she's looking at a future limited by her past. Not only is she living in Temecula, CA, but her dad, Ben (James Brolin) is a car salesman. So is her soon-to-be father-in-law, Stu (Alan Thicke). She's aware that this annoyingly competitive set of legacies don’t bode well for her future, but she faces a worse problem still. Her fiancé, Paxton (Ed Helms) sings in a boy band, Big Ups ("We opened for O-Town. You can Google it").

Worst of all, the horrible little movie Ivy lives in, The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard, is named for her designated love interest. Don "The Goods" Ready (Jeremy Piven) is a salesman extraordinaire, a grating, self-loving caricature who fondly remembers his first boyhood "sale" as a scam of his neighbor. True, that memory ends with the neighbor boy winning the heart of the cute neighbor girl (a blond, of course), but Don's so damn good at what he does -- and so loud about how good he is -- that he's able to push on, treating each sales challenge as an opportunity to prove himself anew.

It's just such a challenge that brings him to Temecula, pop. 98,000. Seems Ben's got a lot full of un-selling cars, and with Fourth of July Weekend coming up, well, for some apparently obvious car-salesmen's reason, he has to move everything. Now. He calls in Don and his team, renowned mercenaries who will inject new energy into the business and make sure it's not a "TCBY by August." Don's used to seducing pretty young things at each stopover, and Ivy seems ripe for conquering -- just judging by her utterly bored face whenever Paxton opens his mouth. It helps Don's cause that Paxton is an ignorant bully and a jerk, but that doesn’t mean Don's a catch. Still, the movie pretends that he achieves maturity by wanting to settle down with Ivy. Poor her!

Ivy's main job is to play straight-person to the crowd of miserable maniacs who surround her (in this she resembles Marilyn Munster). If she needs to move on, you can also see why she looks like a means for Don to get off his own treadmill. His life looks weak indeed. Buoyed by his crew of sleazy salespeople, he only hears again and again how brilliant and successful he is (this is a mantra managed mainly by his second, Brent (David Koechner). Yes, he's still taking calls from employers in places like Temecula, but this has to do with a drearily backstory that leads to a flashback-guest-starring turn by Will Ferrell (enough said!).

None of his workers is especially bright or funny or visibly satisfied with the actual work. Jibby (Ving Rhames), looking weary and sometimes bored, tends to observe his fellow salespeople rather than making the pitch himself. But if his reserve grants Jibby some modicum of coolness, his fellows -- in his view or yours -- look generally desperate. Vavoomy Babs (Kathryn Hahn) sets her sights on Ivy's 10-year-old brother Peter (Rob Riggle), afflicted with some medical condition that causes him to look like a 30-year-old man. Her lechery runs repeatedly into his naïvete (and his descriptions of rubbing and oiling his toys) as if it's "transgressive" instead of the same old frankly gross humor with genders inverted.

This is the problem with The Goods in a nutshell. Its vulgarity is not new or clever or even comically shocking. It is, instead, prosaic and repetitive, if not an overt retread of Used Cars (or, for that matter, any other wannabe rambunctious comedy about adolescent meatheads meeting a minimal goal on a deadline). That this version relies on naughty patter ("motherfucking" this and that, "I'll cut off your tits with a knife, you bitch!") and retarded visual gags (a veritable rain of sex toys, bouncing off a car hood as a couple thrusts energetically inside) only underscores its deficiencies, its dearth of imagination and inspiration. It's all been done before. While it remains unclear whether Ivy even realizes that -- seeing as her horizons are so very limited -- it's hard not to feel sorry for her.

1

Music

Books

Film

Recent
Music

A Certain Ratio Return with a Message of Hope on 'ACR Loco'

Inspired by 2019's career-spanning box set, legendary Manchester post-punkers A Certain Ratio return with their first new album in 12 years, ACR Loco.

Books

Oscar Hijuelos' 'Mambo Kings Play the Songs of Love' Dances On

Oscar Hijuelos' dizzyingly ambitious foot-tapping family epic, Mambo Kings Play the Songs of Love, opened the door for Latinx writers to tell their stories in all their richness.

Music

PM Picks Playlist 2: Bamboo Smoke, LIA ICES, SOUNDQ

PopMatters Picks Playlist features the electropop of Bamboo Smoke, LIA ICES' stunning dream folk, Polish producer SOUNDQ, the indie pop of Pylon Heights, a timely message from Exit Kid, and Natalie McCool's latest alt-pop banger.

Film

'Lost Girls and Love Hotels' and Finding Comfort in Sadness

William Olsson's Lost Girls and Love Hotels finds optimism in its message that life tears us apart and puts us back together again differently.

Music

Bright Eyes' 'Down in the Weeds' Is a Return to Form and a Statement of Hope

Bright Eyes may not technically be emo, but they are transcendently expressive, beatifically melancholic. Down in the Weeds is just the statement of grounding that we need as a respite from the churning chaos around us.

Film

Audrey Hepburn + Rome = Grace, Class, and Beauty

William Wyler's Roman Holiday crosses the postcard genre with a hardy trope: Old World royalty seeks escape from stuffy, ritual-bound, lives for a fling with the modern world, especially with Americans.

Music

Colombia's Simón Mejía Plugs Into the Natural World on 'Mirla'

Bomba Estéreo founder Simón Mejía electrifies nature for a different kind of jungle music on his debut solo album, Mirla.

Music

The Flaming Lips Reimagine Tom Petty's Life in Oklahoma on 'American Head'

The Flaming Lips' American Head is a trip, a journey to the past that one doesn't want to return to but never wants to forget.

Music

Tim Bowness of No-Man Discusses Thematic Ambition Amongst Social Division

With the release of his seventh solo album, Late Night Laments, Tim Bowness explores global tensions and considers how musicians can best foster mutual understanding in times of social unrest.

Music

Angel Olsen Creates a 'Whole New Mess'

No one would call Angel Olsen's Whole New Mess a pretty album. It's much too stark. But there's something riveting about the way Olsen coos to herself that's soft and comforting.

Film

What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .

Music

Masma Dream World Go Global and Trippy on "Sundown Forest" (premiere)

Dancer, healer, musician Devi Mambouka shares the trippy "Sundown Forest", which takes listeners deep into the subconscious and onto a healing path.

Music

Alright Alright's "Don't Worry" Is an Ode for Unity in Troubling Times (premiere)

Alright Alright's "Don't Worry" is a gentle, prayerful tune that depicts the heart of their upcoming album, Crucible.

Music

'What a Fantastic Death Abyss': David Bowie's 'Outside' at 25

David Bowie's Outside signaled the end of him as a slick pop star and his reintroduction as a ragged-edged arty agitator.

Music

Dream Folk's Wolf & Moon Awaken the Senses with "Eyes Closed" (premiere)

Berlin's Wolf & Moon are an indie folk duo with a dream pop streak. "Eyes Closed" highlights this aspect as the act create a deep sense of atmosphere and mood with the most minimal of tools.

Television

Ranking the Seasons of 'The Wire'

Years after its conclusion, The Wire continues to top best-of-TV lists. With each season's unique story arc, each viewer is likely to have favorites.

Film

Paul Reni's Silent Film 'The Man Who Laughs' Is Serious Cinema

There's so much tragedy present, so many skullduggeries afoot, and so many cruel and vindictive characters in attendance that a sad and heartbreaking ending seems to be an obvious given in Paul Reni's silent film, The Man Who Laughs.

Music

The Grahams Tell Their Daughter "Don't Give Your Heart Away" (premiere)

The Grahams' sweet-sounding "Don't Give Your Heart Away" is rooted in struggle, inspired by the couples' complicated journey leading up to their daughter's birth.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.