By all accounts, this movie should have been hilarious. The trailer was pretty funny, the red-band trailer was really funny, and despite the fact that I had no idea what the story was, I thought this was a could not lose situation. That isn't to say I was expecting a classic film, but there was a lot to be hopeful for. The cast is peppered with familiar faces, and Jeremy Piven seemed like the perfect guy to head up the cast. So, the question has to be asked, what went wrong? I went in looking for laughs and walked out bored and underwhelmed. Sure, I laughed, but not nearly as much as I was expecting.
I guess the problems begin with the title. Why couldn't they just call it The Goods? Why the need to tag on what is ostensibly a tag-line? I get the idea that we are supposed to believe these guys both live and sell hard, now I want to know, do they Walk Hard? Whatever the reason being, there it is. I guess I shouldn't get to hung up on it, what's in a title anyway? What matters is the content and it is not like good or even classic films have never had a bad title.
As the film opens we meet the owner and crew (including Tony Hale, Ken Jeong, and Charles Napier) of Selleck Motors, a failing car dealership that is on the verge of going under unless they sell every car on the lot over the upcoming July Fourth holiday weekend. Ben Selleck (James Brolin) has no faith that his crew will be able to save the dealership, so he calls in a team of car-selling mercenaries led by Don Ready (Jeremy Piven).
Ready's team includes the ever lustful Babs (Kathryn Hahn), the sweet natured Jibby (Ving Rhames) who has never known love, and Frank (David Koechner) a no-nonsense fellow who doesn't take too kindly to Ben's confused come-ons. They land in Temecula, California, ready to sell some cars behind Ready's intensely driven personality. They meet Ben's well to do wife (Wendy Malick), 10 year old Peter (Rob Riggle) who through a hormone disorder has the body of a 30-year old, and daughter Ivy (Jordana Spiro) who is engaged to Paxton Harding (Ed Helms), the son of Selleck's hated rival Stu (Alan Thicke).
All right, there are your primary players. Ready leads his team into war as the get all the sales gimmicks going to get people on the lot and lead the charge through the thrill of the sale. It starts off pretty funny as they charge through the first day of sales, but then the problems begin to settle in. The story feels the need to develop the characters rather than float by on the sinking dealership plot. This would not normally be a problem, but considering how they develop our characters I think I would have preferred some skating by on the plot.
We learn that something happened to Don Ready in his past that has driven him to sell harder than ever before. Babs just chases the 10 year old around looking to satisfy her urges, while Jibby engages a stripper in hopes of love. Then there is Frank, he just tries to avoid Ben the whole time.
The second and third acts offered little in the way of big laughs and a surprisingly high amount of boredom. There is a succession of lame jokes and attempts to make our core characters deeper than they are, which all fail.
I cannot quite put my finger on it, but coming on the heels of a comedy that works on near every level like The Hangover, The Goods has a lot to do to impress. It feels like the cast is pressing real hard to make it all come together and while I get the impression the filming was hilarious, the energy does not translate. Another possibility is that there is a better version of this movie that was left on the cutting room floor. In an effort to conserve some funny and dirty material for the inevitable unrated DVD, they became a little overzealous and clipped all of the character moments. I am sure this was all done in keeping the pace up and the run time down to create more show times and more potential revenue.
Where to go from here? I laughed, yes, but it was mostly at scenes we already saw parts of in the various trailers. I liked most of the performers in their roles, by and large, they all had some great lines. The problem is that the glue that would have made all the pieces fit and stick was nowhere to be found with an end result being a mildly humorous mess.
Bottomline. I would have liked to have had some more payoff for the characters tales other than the onscreen text at the end of the movie. That tells me they did not know how to end it. I would have liked more laughs and better characters, a plot that was a bit more solid, and perhaps a run time that allowed a little more breathing room. You'll laugh, but when it ends you won't care.