The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard

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      Starring Jeremy Piven and Ving Rhames. Rated 14A. Opens Friday, August 14

      Cars move ordinary men; extraordinary men move cars.

      This is the premise of The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard, whose remarkably contorted title accurately foreshadows the mighty strains that its players undertake in pursuit of broad farce and mild yuks.

      Watch the trailer for The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard .

      Directed by Neal Brennan, Chappelle’s Show cocreator and writer, The Goods: Et Cetera features Jeremy Piven as Don Ready, car sales yojimbo. When car dealers can’t move their inventory, they turn to the unstoppable Ready and his crack sales team (Ving Rhames, David Koechner, and Kathryn Hahn) to lay on the gimmicks, drum up the hype, and sell that steel in record time.

      Blisteringly intense on the job, partying hard during their off-hours, Ready and his crew are like a veteran bar band, working the club circuit with energy, if not genuine enthusiasm.

      The movie finds them masterminding the Independence Day Weekend sale at Selleck Motors in Temecula, California. Little does Ready suspect (although the audience is telegraphed well in advance) that this is the gig that will challenge the master manipulator’s skills, luck, and—swoon!—heart.

      Despite the aggressively crude improvisations of the ensemble (interspersed with numerous cameos by actors from other movies that are kind of like this one, only about stepbrothers or role models, instead of car salesmen), The Goods: Confusing Subtitle is curiously old-fashioned. The unprintable 12-letter epithet flows like water, but the movie is fundamentally sentimental rather than dirty or shocking.

      Piven gives a committed and appropriately manic performance as the road warrior approaching a personal roadblock. His romance with the dealership’s Ivy Selleck (winsome Jordana Spiro) is a bit hard to watch because Ready’s unshaven, sweaty machismo implies terminal BO, but Piven brings an interesting level of pain and wisdom to a character that producer Will Ferrell would have played as a clueless boob.

      As a comedy, the movie has about three laughs and a few chuckles, so it barely makes it on the percentages. But as a Piven showcase, it’s as good as Smokin’ Aces.