Have you ever seen the John Landis documentary "Slasher?"
Fascinating stuff. It's about a guy named Michael Bennett who is brought in by car dealerships when they're struggling. He's the expert, the guy who will figure out a way to get that stock off the lot. He's the proverbial salesman's salesman, able to convince Eskimos they're not paying enough for snow. The real miracle of Landis's film is that he manages to get past that confidence to reveal something of the real Michael Bennett, the family man who lives out of a suitcase, the guy whose artificial hyperconfidence takes a heavy toll on him personally. It's a really great late-era movie for Landis, and I would imagine Andy Stock & Rick Stempson, the screenwriters of "The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard" must have seen the movie at some point during the creative process.
That's not to say that Neal Brennan and his cast have just ripped off the Landis film; far from it. But they're definitely playing in the same sandbox, and it's fairly ripe comic ground. This was one of the films that got orphaned a bit when Paramount Vantage folded into big Paramount, but to their credit, Paramount did indeed get behind the film and push it, especially once they started showing it to people and seeing how well it plays with crowds. You can feel the comic signatures of producers Will Ferrell and Adam McKay on this one... there's something about the comedy of men behaving like in-need-of-medication-lunatics that seems to particularly entertain these guys... and to its credit, most of "The Goods" avoids the trap of sentimentalizing the characters. There are a few perfunctory moves towards the end of the film, meant to humanize Don Ready (Jeremy Piven) and make us like him more, but overall, the film is mainly interested in making us laugh.
And for the most part, it does.
[more after the jump]