Adam McKay talks “The Goods,” “Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters”

Anyone who’s a fan of Will Ferrell’s work will recognize the name of Adam McKay. The two have been in cahoots virtually since the day they met…which, as it happens, was the day they were both hired for “Saturday Night Live” (along with David Koechner, Cheri Oteri, and writer Tom Gianis)…and they’ve turned their collaboration on sketches like “Neil Diamond: Storytellers” and the ongoing saga of Bill Brasky into an partnership which has found McKay directing Ferrell in “Anchorman,” “Talladega Nights,” and “Step Brothers.” It’s also led to a successful production company – Gary Sanchez Productions – which has brought us HBO’s “Eastbound and Down,” “The Foot Fist Way,” and, most recently, the used-car comedy, “The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard.”

“The Goods” was kinda sorta buried at the box office by the competition, but Roger Ebert describes it as a “cheerfully energetically and very vulgar comedy,” adding, “If you’re okay with that, you may be okay with this film, which contains a lot of laughs and has studied Political Correctness only enough to make a list of groups to offend.” Hey, sounds good to me…and although McKay was doing the press rounds this week in what one presumes was an attempt by Paramount to kick up the buzz for the film a little more, he seems pretty comfortable no matter what the resulting numbers are this weekend.

“Regardless, we’re either gonna be a small little box office surprise or we’re gonna be a cult cable hit,” he said, with a laugh. “It’ll be one way or the other. But it certainly makes us laugh, so we’re happy about that.”

Producer Kevin Messick came to McKay and Ferrell with the script for “The Goods” with star Jeremy Piven already attached, and after giving it a read, McKay couldn’t have been more enthusiastic about the actor’s involvement.

“Oh, my God, if there’s ever a role that you’re going to have him play coming off the success he’s had as Ari Gold (in ‘Entourage’), it’s this role,” said McKay. “And we thought, ‘Well, we can do a rewrite on this, kind of gussy this up, get people we like in it, and sort of approach it through improv.’ Will and I had written a car-salesman script about five or six years before that, which Lorne Michaels tried to get made at Paramount, but it was a weird time over there, and we couldn’t get it made, and it was very frustrating. So we saw this script come through, and we thought, ‘Well, this is perfect.’”

Some may hear about the concept of this film and think, “Didn’t they already do this with ‘Used Cars’?” Although McKay is a fan of the classic 1980 Robert Zemeckis comedy and admits that it’s one of the reasons that the idea of the movie was so attractive to him, he estimates that 8 out of 10 people don’t even remember the film.

“It’s a film-fan movie,” he said. “I love it, of course, but it was so long ago. It’s kind of amazing that there really haven’t been many car-salesman movies since then. There was ‘Cadillac Man,’ but that wasn’t really about car sales. My favorite salesman movies are ‘Tin Men’ and ‘Glengarry Glen Ross,’ and that’s really what got us excited about it. If anything, ‘Glengarry Glen Ross’ was a huge influence on this movie. Even though this movie’s raunchy and absurd and silly, that vibe is still very funny to us.”

And so, by many folks’ estimations, is “The Goods,” although – appropriately, given the subject of the film – your mileage may vary.

McKay is currently in pre-production for his next directorial effort, “The Other Guys,” but that doesn’t mean that he doesn’t have his eye on what project will be next on the horizon. He’s excited at the prospect of branching out beyond his usual realm, and in addition to the sci-fi satire, “Channel Three Billion,” he’s particularly chomping at the bit to get the ball rolling on the intriguingly-titled “Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters,” from writer/director Tommy Wirkola.

“I love that movie,” said McKay. “That’s exactly the kind of shit where, like, it almost veers a little more toward Sam Raimi Land. Yeah, our production company, Gary Sanchez, is producing that. We saw ‘Dead Snow,’ the movie that Tommy did first, and Kevin Messick had Tommy come in, and he told us about this ‘Hansel & Gretel’ idea, and we were instantly, like, ‘Oh, my God, we’re doing that.’ And then he wrote an amazing script, so I’m as excited about that as anything we’re doing.”

Be sure to head over to Bullz-Eye.com next week for the full interview with McKay, where discusses the history of his collaboration with Ferrell, the status of “Anchorman 2,” and what we can expect from the second season of “Eastbound and Down.”

  

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