Judge Daniel Kelly has the goods. This movie certainly doesn't.
"Ahhhh, it feels like a Smurf jizzed all over my face!"
The bads. The disappointings. The borings. These surely would have been better titles for this largely unfunny and surprisingly uninteresting comedy from the Adam McKay and Will Ferrell entertainment tree.
Facts of the Case
Don Ready (Jeremy Piven, Entourage) is the best car salesman around and, when a family business in Temecula is threatened with closure, Don and his weird group of pals are drafted to save it. What follows isn't so much a plot, but rather an awkward mix of unconvincing sketch ideas, lazy improvisation, and a few hollow clichéd genre staples. Not really a winning recipe by this critic's reckoning.
Crazy comedies shouldn't be this dull. Indeed, I use the term comedy loosely with The Goods because it is almost totally smirk free. I've seen a few dodgy mainstream comedies this year—including Miss March and The Ugly Truth—and I'm almost certain that The Goods is as bad if not worse than any of them. Everything from the casting and direction to the writing is hopelessly inadequate. Were it not for a few minor examples of good humour and an amusing cameo, this would be a feature without a merit to its name. Running at 89 minutes in length, I suspect about three minutes are worth watching, a troubling statistic for those in pursuit of an effective and smile-inducing comedy.
In the lead role, Jeremy Piven is beyond useless, exhibiting no flair for the material and recycling the same machismo rascal shtick I've seen a few dozen times before. It's clear the filmmakers were trying to cultivate the character into a cult icon for frat boys, but I doubt even they will be inspired by such a drab and roughly cut performance. Never once did I feel any sort of humanity in the character of Don; more importantly, I never found him funny either. Piven is as much at fault for this as anyone else. All around him, talented actors like Ving Rhames (Pulp Fiction), Craig Robinson (The Office), and David Koechner (Snakes on a Plane) are put to epic waste in one note and unimaginative parts. If these people can't find the will to be funny, then you really have to question the quality of the screenplay and dread what the final product would have looked like with less able participants. On the plus side, Ed Helms (The Hangover) is modestly okay and doesn't excessively desecrate his newly founded comedic reputation. Playing a jerk rival of Piven's, he's actually watchable; forgettable sure, but in the company of such barren comic territory, anything better than abysmal feels like a small victory.
Much of the comedy seems derived from the actors improv and the results are scattershot at best, ludicrously mirthless at worst. At times, some of what The Goods is trying to pass as humour made me cringe. One joke in particular involving a baby and some expletives was mind numbingly predictable and juvenile. There are a few ideas that might work as individual skits (a boy band subplot is the most obvious), but when folded into this unimpressive narrative they feel stale and wasted. Throughout the film, as I sat back and felt vaguely noxious, I still looked for some positives, primarily asking myself if teenage boys might like it. My honest response is that they probably won't. Sure it's got the vulgar sensibility down to an art form, but believe it or not sometimes adolescent guys like witty and intelligent jokes too. The Goods doesn't approach either of those adjectives. It's just one dumb and poorly rendered excuse for an "outrageous" R-rated time at the movies.
A visually flat and weary-looking motion picture, the story is knotted together by a few silly and thoroughly formulaic romantic developments. The locations are monotonous and don't aid in the dismal attempts at jesting. Director Neal Brennan is borderline clueless about how to mount a successful and sprightly comedic tempo. He throws in a few attractive women in skimpy costumes and plenty of cleavage to try and spice things up, but it's a lowest common denominator trick that doesn't stick.
The DVD is a bare bones release with only a few trailers. One of the aforementioned is Road Trip: Beer Pong, which looks even cruder and more unsatisfying than The Goods. Yet, with that film, they had the decency to send it straight to DVD; surely the rightful home of this underwhelming picture.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
A sequence involving Will Ferrell in an Abraham Lincoln costume parachuting out of a plane with dildos and gimp masks hovering around him is made good because of the actor's delivery and comic skill. Ferrell is a top class comedian and that's more evident than ever in The Goods, because with about two minutes of screen time he outstrips just about everyone else in the movie. That's a depressing damnation of this tripe, if ever there was one.
Send The Goods and Jeremy Piven to the scrap heap.
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