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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard

Posted By on Wed, Aug 19, 2009 at 12:00 AM

Funnier than the trailer and timely enough to ride the "cash-for-clunkers" zeitgeist, this lowbrow comedy about used-car salesmen manages to defy low expectations, thanks mostly to an amusing supporting cast, some decent jokes and no-frills pacing. For all Judd Apatow's talents, he could take a lesson from first-time film director Neal Brennan (Chappelle's Show) about brevity being the soul of wit.

Jeremy Piven is Don Ready, a sleazeball used-car liquidator, whose team is hired by a failing dealership in Temecula, Calif., to turn their Fourth of July sale into a business-saving success. And, well, that's pretty much it. The rest is wacky Will Ferrell-style humor (see his amusing cameo) — that hits and misses in equal measure.

Piven is producer Adam McKay's (Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy) brother-in-law and, frankly, isn't quite right for the lead. He's great when he's in Ari Gold-asshole mode but he doesn't have the heart for sillier jokes. His cohorts (Kathryn Hahn, David Koechner and Ving Rhames), on the other hand, all have good moments, with James Brolin landing some hearty chuckles as a homosexually inclined father figure. Yeah, stupid gay jokes are stock in these kinds of flicks, but there's perverse delight in watching Mr. Streisand put the moves on a befuddled Koechner. Surprisingly, Daily Show alums Ed Helms and Rob Riggle come up short while most of the women (including clever Wendie Mallick) sport throwaway roles. Consider it a worthy rental or late-night cable stop.

Jeff Meyers writes about film for Metro Times. Send comments to letters@metrotimes.com.

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