The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard
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Don Ready moves vehicles off lots so well that he could sell ice to a penguin who's looking for a pre-owned snowmobile. He and his ragtag mercenary sales team—Brent the accounting magician, Jibby the former professional athlete and Babs the ... well, I'm not sure what she is beyond severely oversexed—travel from failing dealership to failing dealership to liquidize used cars and then sprint outta town.
So when car dealer Ben Selleck enlists the Ready team to save his family's 40-year-old business, the four retail rock stars rush to his side in Temecula, Calif. There they meet Selleck's bumbling salesmen, Dang, Zooha and Dick—along with Selleck's adult daughter, Ivy, and his 10-year-old son, Peter (who looks like a 30-year-old man thanks to a pituitary disorder).
It's the Fourth of July weekend and ultra-macho Don rallies the team to "sell the metal" of 221 cars that are "getting a suntan on the lot." His bravado and con-artist-extraordinaire skill rack up revenue for Selleck—but there's a catch. There's always a catch.
It works like this: Selleck suddenly decides he wants to cave and sell the lot to rival Stu Harding and Stu's son Paxton, also known as Ivy's pretentious fiancé. Don, however, won't give up ... because he's got The Goods. He wants the Sellecks' historic business to survive—in part because he has no roots or family of his own. So he challenges Stu and Paxton: He'll sell every single car on the lot in three days or he'll walk away from the business forever.
Stu and Paxton say it's game on.
Of course, at first nothing goes as planned for Don. After all, all's fair in love and automobile sales. Not to mention in crass films co-produced by Adam McKay and Will Ferrell, the same guys who have already blasted the moviegoing world with Step Brothers and Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby.
Don gradually realizes the emptiness of his life—and believe me, it's really, really empty. So he sincerely, though very misguidedly, tries to establish meaning through saving the dealership (cheating customers in the process) and having an illicit sexual relationship.
Despite his utter lack of professionalism, Ready's can-do attitude inspires Selleck's team to rally and sell more cars, thus saving the family business. A man realizes that one-night stands are a one-way ticket to broken-heartsville. And Don ultimately (though formulaically) learns that relationships, not cars, are the importance of the business.
Song lyrics mention God blessing America and His amazing grace. God's blessing is requested a couple of times, and His "green earth" is mentioned as well. Someone nonchalantly asks for His forgiveness.
Don, who claims he's a Christian—as well as a follower of whatever religion dominates the region he's currently selling in—illustrates the hollowness of their world when he asks his team what else there is to do but sell cars in this life.
A Gideon Bible is replaced with magazines in a hotel room. Paxton asks if Jesus will rise from beneath his band's stage during a concert (as a special effect). A deceased friend of Don's visits him as an angel with winged (and blasphemous) backup singers.
Did I mention already that The Goods was made by the guys responsible for Talladega Nights?
Sophomoric references to erections are "supplemented" by images of one (under clothing). There are verbal and/or visual gags about orgasms, condoms, breastfeeding adults, masturbation, genitalia, sex toys, lesbian fantasies, homosexual sex, group sex, oral sex, animal sex, and the merging of sex and other bodily functions. Several of the primary characters watch porn, some of which is also seen onscreen.
As if to debase sex even more than by just gratuitously showing it, two lap dancers give graphic performances for Brent and Don—but both men continue to converse as if nothing is happening to them. A pole dancer's bare breasts are shown and several other dancers wear barely there g-strings that reveal pubic hair.
Outside the strip club, Women wear cleavage-hugging shirts, short shorts, short skirts or nothing much at all. We see a woman nude from the waist up showering. Ready gropes a flight attendant, ripping her shirt and exposing her bra.
While eating breakfast in a strip club (a stripper's top garnishes his pancakes), Brent says he was raised around, if not in, such places.
Jibby laments that he's had sex with thousands of women but has still never "made love." When he selects a stripper to supposedly do so with, we see her bare back and his chest as they have sex. He soon says he's bored by the tenderness of their tryst and requests that their "lovemaking" be replaced with sadomasochism. Don has sex with another man's wife in the backseat of a car.
In a plot move that attempts—but utterly fails—to elevate statutory rape to comic status, Babs persistently and graphically hits on 10-year-old-but-hunky Peter. At one point she tries to get him drunk on "special fun juice" (aka a martini) and suggests they go to a hotel to "wrestle."
Don "Readily" hits on Ivy, despite the fact she's engaged, and eventually the two have sex in his hotel room. He claims to love her and want a future with her, but she says it's her final fling before she marries ultra-annoying Paxton. After all, she's almost 30 and thus without options since she thinks Don won't stick around in Temecula.
Never mind that he has a wife, Ben hits on Brent ad nauseam. Don offers Brent to Ben for a night as a bribe to entice Ben to fight for the dealership.
Several times Dick beats people with a stick or his fists, whether they're customers or colleagues. A bank bag blows its blue ink into Dang's face, temporarily blinding him. A strip club DJ casually announces that one of the strippers is dead; we're left to wonder by what means. Babs tells a tall tale of shooting two men in the heart. Then she threatens to cut a bartender with a knife. Another man says he's going to blow people's brains out. Then he dies (off camera) while skydiving; his macabre death is vividly described. A DJ is said to have ended up in prison for assaulting a man.
Crude or Profane Language
Through the "wonder" of computer graphics, an infant says the f-word. About 60 more f-words and at least 15 s-words come from adults. Don's business card flashes the f-word, as does a card he gives out as a kid. God's name is abused more than a dozen times, with a high percentage coupled with "d--n." Christ's name is interjected at least three times. Further off-color, vulgar, rude, racist and misogynistic language includes "b--ch," "d--k," "h---," "b--tard," "pr--k," "a--," "p---y" and "n-gger." Obscene gestures are made.
Drug and Alcohol Content
Ready protests when he's told he can't smoke a cigarette on an airplane, eventually convincing both passengers and crew that smoking is an American right. They then use the oxygen masks as bongs. Beer, whiskey (which is said to relieve pain) and other forms of alcohol are served at bars and strip clubs. Babs buys Peter a martini.
Other Negative Elements
As Don waxes ridiculous about how the dealership can be inspired by American war heroes and Rosa Parks, Dick's racist attitude causes the team to attack Dang, who is thought to be Japanese. Blacks, Jews, Nigerians, mentally impaired people, boat people, gays, Eskimos and others are also denigrated by Dick or other team members.
Hate crimes are treated as—what else?—a joke. When Dang is attacked, Don tells the team they have to get their stories straight to avoid federal conviction. Then they bribe Dang to keep his mouth shut.
Don and his team repeatedly cheat customers. Paxton isn't above cheating his future father-in-law, calling it "business." Dick incites a car lot riot that causes buyers to go wild, hitting people, taking a chain saw to a man's stilts, etc. In a TV ad, Ben masquerades as a cancer patient to rally customer support.
Brent mocks Zooha's wife and kids. Ready's quasi-son calls his biological father "a piece of s---" that got his mother pregnant and left. Indeed, references to excrement, semen, vomit and other bodily fluids abound.
Yes, Adam McKay and Will Ferrell are offering audiences yet another sewer-themed "safari." Unfortunately, lots and lots and lots of people will probably go on it. Why do I think this? Well, first, the audience at the screening I attended cheered. Second, previous McKay/Ferrell projects have become cult classics.
About The Goods script, star Jeremy Piven says, "The great thing about things that are written by Adam McKay is they work on a lot of different levels." (After which my interjected thought is this: Yes, such as low, lower and netherworld bottomless.) Piven continues, "And even if you just get it on the comedic front, you know, you just get it on that one kind of lowbrow comedic level, it's gonna make you laugh and it's entertaining—and then there's all the rest of it which is really, really fun."
I think his definition of fun is really, really, um, interesting. If statutory rape, sadomasochism, excrement, deception, emptiness and death are pleasantly fun things, then what does Mr. Piven do for a downer?
When discussing his used-car-salesman persona, the actor says, "You have this kind of tragic character, Don Ready, you know, who you would think is just maybe this kind of abrasive fast-moving target that is just kind of on an endless loop of selling cars and [bedding] women. And then he runs into this world. He's delusional, and yet he has potential, which is a fun character to play."
Don Ready does have potential. He does see that his life is devoid of love and meaning. He does see that things in his world must change. And he even tries to make those changes. But his changes are 180 degrees away from what would truly help him. And that's really what makes The Goods tragic. Not in a Shakespearian sense by any means, but in an irreverent, dumbed-down, 21st century Hollywood sense.
Other Belief Systems
Readability Age Range
Jeremy Piven as Don Ready; Ving Rhames as Jibby; James Brolin as Ben Selleck; David Koechner as Brent Gage; Alan Thicke as Stu Harding; Wendie Malick as Tammy Selleck; Jordana Spiro as Ivy Selleck
Neal Brennan ( )
August 14, 2009
November 17, 2009