So here's my tale: On Monday, we finally had to put our cat, Boris, to sleep. He had been a good friend for nineteen years, but in the last few weeks in particular it had become evident he had reached the end of the line. Didn't make the decision any easier.
At the same time, Paramount had gotten in touch with me to let me know I could finally catch Neal Brennan, director of The Goods: Live Hard. Sell Hard, when he arrived in Las Vegas on Wednesday for the film's world premiere. This, two days before the national release, and one day after I'd be going to a screening of the film. So a week that was supposed to be fairly laid back suddenly became freighted with emotion and altered by the necessity of producing two episodes instead of one (if you were anticipating I Sell the Dead, that's coming tomorrow).
Come Tuesday evening, I'm barely recovered from losing the little guy, and here I am heading out to the screening, one thought in mind: This had better be goddamn funny.
I just love happy endings, don't you?
The Hangover set the comedy bar quite high this summer, but The Goods admirably continues the Will Ferrell/Adam McKay tradition of taking fools and rogues and elevating them to near-mythic proportions. The scoundrel this time is one Don "The Goods" Ready, played by Jeremy Piven, a roving used-car-salesman-for-hire who, with his team of hard-charging cohorts (Ving Rhames, Kathryn Hahn, and David Koechner), seek to keep the dealership of Ben Selleck (James Brolin) and his lovely, if eminently sensible, daughter Ivy (Jordana Spiro) from falling into the hands of a rival (Alan Thicke) and his boy-band loving son (Ed Helms).
You don't need an abacus to calculate how this will turn out, or that there may be love in the air for Ivy and the world-weary Ready (the ginger has been taken out of him by a disastrous experience in Albuquerque -- shown in a flashback which features Ferrell sporting some very strange facial hair). But that's not what you're here for -- you want the funny, and the film delivers quite handily on the promise, dishing out everything from send-ups of Gladiator to rampant alligators to Craig Robinson as an affable DJ with a disturbing inner narrative and the incomparable Charles Napier as a hard-bitten salesman who never really left the battlefield.
Happy to have had a bit of the weight lifted, I wound up Tuesday looking forward to my conversation with Neal. We got to talk about the finer points of getting a baby to emote; the fact vs. fiction of working with Jeremy Piven; and why you should go easy on the dry-roasted nuts if you're flying with your producer. Click the player below to hear the interview.
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