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Film review: 'The Goods: Live Hard. Sell Hard' starts fast, dies slow

THE GOODS: LIVE HARD. SELL HARD. — ★★ — Jeremy Piven, Ed Helms, James Brolin; rated R (vulgarity, profanity, sex, violence, nudity, drugs, slurs); in general release

Here's what you really need to know about "The Goods: Live Hard. Sell Hard." — the film was produced by Will Ferrell and features a brief cameo bit by the comedy star.

And Jeremy Piven plays what is essentially the Will Ferrell role in the movie.

That's right: Jeremy Piven. One of the few people besides Ferrell who can immediately turn off certain audiences.

If the filmmakers — who include most of the same producers as the Ferrell hits "Talladega Nights" and "Anchorman" — were counting on Piven to bring in moviegoers, they are sadly mistaken.

His motormouth routine quickly wears thin in this raunchy, R-rated comedy, which should have been subtitled "Starts Fast. Dies Slowly."

Piven stars as Don "The Goods" Ready. He's a fast-talking car salesman who goes from town to town, with a crack team of fellow salespeople (Ving Rhames, David Koechner and Kathryn Hahn) in tow.

They've come to Temecula, Calif., at the request of Ben Selleck (James Brolin). Ben is in danger of going bankrupt and losing his lot to his biggest rival, Stu Harding (Alan Thicke).

Don and company are supposed to help Ben turn things around during a crucial, Fourth of July sales weekend. Instead, the love-'em-and-leave-'em Don is conflicted. He winds up in a love triangle with Ben's daughter, Ivy (Jordana Spiro), and Paxton Harding (Ed Helms), the son of Ben's biggest competitor.

As film starts taking itself more and more seriously, it becomes less fun and more formulaic and tiresome.

And as usual, Piven is playing an unsympathetic jerk. We need someone we can like — even just a little bit — to make this work.

Also, a story line in which Hahn's character tries to seduce an overgrown man-child (Rob Riggle) is not only unfunny, it's in extremely poor taste.

"The Goods: Live Hard. Sell Hard." is rated R and features crude sexual humor and other off-color jokes (references and sight gags), strong sexual language (profanity and crude slang), simulated sex and other sexual contact, allegedly comic violence (brawling, vehicular mayhem, a skydiving accident and some violence against women and children), female nudity, drug use and references (narcotics), and derogatory language and slurs (mostly based on race, ethnicity and sexual orientation). Running time: 90 minutes.