Sunday, December 27, 2009

The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard

The New Entourage

Gone are the days when a comedy with a premise as simple as this, would have made me laugh uncontrollably at every instance of humour. It's either I've grown older and more cynical, or have totally lost my funny bone. I'd reckon that it's more of the former, as I still laugh just as hard when I revisit comedies done by the Zucker Brothers time and again, which measured by my personal yardstick, goes to show that the comedies these days lack a certain oomph. Watching this was a reminiscence of an era that I'm still missing, where comedies really gave audiences some bang for their buck with jokes that will send you rip-roaring.

What filmmakers like director Neal Brennan would reckon is funny, is the constant dropping of F-bombs and turning everything possible into a sexual innuendo, be it hitting on the gays, or treading so finely on pedophilia, which I suppose to him is meant to be funny with a female cougar scouring quite unsuccessfully a boy who's trapped in a man's body.

The flimsy plot on which the laughs are built upon, involve a used car business founded by Ben Selleck (James Brolin), who has seen better days, and is now threatened with foreclosure. His sales force, made up of the likes of a senile drill sergeant (Charles Napier) and a madcap Korean (Ken Jeong rising to some prominence these days), spells doom especially when they lose customers more than keep and sell them something. Hence extreme times like this meant to engage an external, proven consultant, and that's Don Ready (Jeremy Piven) and his team of Jibby Newsome (Ving Rhames), Brent Gage (David Koechner) and Babs Merrick (Kathryn Hahn).

Part of the fun here I suppose is how each character has to exorcise their personal demons and issues, especially with members of the Selleck family. For Don, it's the prospect of acknowledging a long lost son whom he had unknowingly left behind, and the wooing of Ivy Selleck (Jordana Spiro), who is engaged to boy band leader Paxton Harding (Ed Helms from The Hangover). Then there's Brent who has to keep Ben Selleck himself off his back given the latter's newfound sexual desire. Babs is trying to hit on man-child Peter Selleck (Rob Riggle), a 10 year old trapped in a 30 year old body. And Jibby just wants to make love. Right. Jeremy Piven also lacked that cocky charisma to have carried his character off, and unfortunately for him too that the last act have him moping and whining more than the cocksure seller that he supposedly is.

There's nothing you won't already predict in the narrative as it unfolds and coasts along from joke to joke with its cardboard characters, some of which do work, but most falling flat on its face. Nothing surprising will turn up as you'll see all incoming development from a mile away, right up to the finale. The saving grace may just be Will Farell's uncredited appearance together with two gospel angels who don't mince their lyrics, but other than that, The Goods should have tried harder to live up to its tagline in putting bums on seats - I got an entire hall to myself!

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