‘Goods’ can’t close the comic sale

Will Ferrell’s production company tries to have it both ways with “The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard,” which wants to blend both slipshod, put-on comedy with a tale of a hustler’s redemption.

The hustler is Don Ready, a legendary salesman and “hired gun,” who brings his team of hard-sell experts to companies that need a boost. Don is played by Jeremy Piven, the hot-wired star of “Entourage,” who thrives at playing this kind of jacked-up go-getter.

Right now, a Temecula car-lot owner (James Brolin) needs the Don Ready touch. He’s got to move metal in one weekend or lose his place.

So here comes Don and his team; they are played by Ving Rhames, David Koechner, and the very funny, vaguely unsettling actress Kathryn Hahn (whose prominent roles in two 2008 films, “Revolutionary Road” and “Step Brothers,” suggest her range).

“The Goods” is all over the place, like a jumbled sketch-comedy show. It makes sense that director Neal Brennan comes from TV, with experience on “Chappelle’s Show.”

This means that good people shine in isolated spots: Ed Helms yuks it up as a guy far too old to be pursuing his dreams as a member of a boy band, seasoned character actor Charles Napier scores a few times with a racist-geezer shtick, and Hahn and Rob Riggle share some funny/weird scenes together (“Daily Show” guy Riggle plays Brolin’s 10-year-old son, whose glandular problem makes him look like a 35-year-old).

Piven ought to be knocking the fast-talking stuff out of the park, but he’s not quite on top of it the way he usually is — perhaps he’s slowed up by the movie’s sentimental side, in which Don Ready worries he ought to settle down and make an honest life, preferably with Brolin’s sympathetic daughter (Jordana Spiro).

Naturally there’s an extended Will Ferrell cameo, which provides a funny backstory to Don Ready’s angst. Ferrell spends most of his performance falling from an airplane.

Here’s the main problem: This movie can’t decide how to play off the cornball let’s-sell-a-car-for-the-Gipper stuff (which will get the audience to root for the characters) against the spoofy comedy.

It wants to satirize a certain kind of movie, then it becomes that kind of movie. Nope, sorry, you can’t have it both ways. Even if you do have Will Ferrell dropping from a plane.

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