Jacqueline Monahan's Movie Reviews
- Category: Jacqueline Monahan
- Published on 18 August 2009
- Written by Jacqueline Monahan
Las Vegas Round The Clock
Jacqueline Monahan is an English tutor for the GEAR UP program at UNLV.
She is also a consultant for Columbia College Chicago in Adjunct Faculty Affairs
The Goods: Live hard. Sell hard.
Talk about timely. With the government’s Cash for Clunkers program in full swing and incentives running high for automobile acquisitions, it seems like the hot topic these days is cars. Here is a film about 211 of them on a lot in Temecula, California, waiting to be sold.
The owner of Selleck Motors is Ben Selleck (James Brolin) who employs a team of ineffective, mediocre, and sometimes violent salesmen. The business is tanking, a fact that pleases Selleck rival Stu Harding (Alan Thicke) who’d like to purchase the property to use as rehearsal space for his shallow son Paxton’s (Ed Helms) boy band, Big Ups.
Selleck hires a maverick consulting team led by Don Ready (Jeremy Piven) to revitalize the sales force and clear the lot over a long Fourth of July weekend. Ready employs unusual methods that include a live DJ, strippers, provocative commercials (they don’t have to be true) and other guerilla tactics to move cars. Cheating and trickery are allowed and even encouraged. He’s aided by right hand man Brent Gage (David Koechner), redheaded sexpot wannabe Babs (Kathryn Hahn) and intimidating strong-arm Jibby, (Ving Rhames).
Selleck has a ten-year old son, Peter, (Rob Riggle) with a rare hormonal malfunction that gives him the body of a 30-year-old man. Babs spends the length of the film trying to seduce him. Selleck’s daughter Ivy (Jordana Spiro) catches Ready’s eye, although she is engaged to none other than the obnoxious Paxton Harding. Ready spends the length of the film trying to seduce her, with some success.
Guilt over the death of his former partner (Will Ferrell) in a promotional stunt gone wrong in Albuquerque, as well as Ivy’s influence as a sort of conscience, forces Ready to review his shallow life. He and the gang routinely hang out in strip clubs, having business meetings over simultaneous lap dances, a scene which is particularly offensive and goes on much too long, unless the viewer is a seventh grade boy or college fraternity member with the mentality of a kegger.
Other parts of the film feature clever gags with good comedic timing and witty one-liners – I just can’t think of them right now. They were vastly outnumbered by the cheap shots and easy laughs that vulgarity ensures.
So much of the film relies on slapstick pranks, lowbrow, racist assumptions and sexist, stereotypical portrayals of women and minorities, that the truly funny bits are lost in the mud. Ben Selleck has a not-so-secret crush on Brent Gage, and that is milked for all it’s worth. A Korean employee is made into a scapegoat because he looks Asian enough to take the blame for Pearl Harbor. A pointless subplot features the promise of American Idol’s Bo Bice’s brother Eric as a featured vocalist in an effort to lure car buyers to the lot. His no-show incites a riot. Does anybody care?
Jeremy Piven is likeable enough. He just doesn’t get you to care about what happens to him. James Brolin’s Selleck shows comedic aplomb with his closeted come-ons to the reluctant Brent Gage. Kathryn Hahn makes Babs sexy and funny looking, an unusual combination that may be successful in another film with more intelligence. Ving Rhames is utterly wasted, and David Koechner has the potential to be hilarious, just not here. Ed Helms tries hard and hits a mighty parody right between the eyes, but it’s not enough to salvage the film.
Like any scrap heap, there’s a possibility of finding valuable material in the garbage, but you have to look long and hard to find something useable. Director Neal Brennan and Executive Producer Will Ferrell pander to a crass, juvenile clientele that relishes and rewards mean-spirited behavior. Hardly the goods I want to be sold.
One extra chick for some genuinely funny material. Wish I could remember it.