“The Goods”: How Much Jeremy Piven Is Too Much?

Piven was great in "PCU" but starting to get on our nerves in "Cupid"

Once upon a time, Jeremy Piven was a humorously welcome presence in our movies and on our televisions. (Remember when he played TV George on Seinfeld?) Then something happened.

His rapid-fire conversation style and cocksure bravado went from charming to kinda obnoxious. Maybe it was when he got a regular gig on Ellen, or when he stopped playing the best friend all the time, but whatever it was, his shtick started to get a little old. We're reluctant to go see his new movie The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard, because we're worried that partway through we'll hit our capacity for Piven and have to leave the theater. To try and break it down scientifically, we looked back at Piven's body of work to see how much Piven, exactly, is too much Piven.

PCU (1994)
Just shy of 30, Piven had not quite begun to get on our nerves yet when he played the role of Droz, de facto leader of the upperclassman dormitory known as "The Pit" Although he was arguably the lead actor, appearing in more than 60% of the film, this was in the early days, and he moved back and forth between manic and laid-back with ease.
Piven Levels: SAFE

Grosse Pointe Blank (1997)
While Piven is only a small part of this John Cusack vehicle about a hitman going to his class reunion (he plays an old classmate), the times when he is on screen are already starting to get wearisome, especially when he's drunk or high, which is always. Luckily, we only get him in small doses. This time.
Piven Levels: SAFE

Cupid (1998-99)
We're still not sure why Rob Thomas tried to bring this show back to the airwaves with a new lead actor in 2008. Maybe he thought that Piven was the problem with the original series, which was cancelled after 15 episodes? Granted, Piven was talking a mile-a-minute in most of his scenes as the possibly delusional God of Love, and came across as an overconfident tool, but he showed a softer side every now and again, and actually made us feel for the character sometimes. So maybe Rob Thomas should just deal with the fact that it's a terrible idea for a TV series and move on.
Piven Levels: MEDIUM

Serendipity (2001)
Yet another "best friend" role, although this time he's pretending to be best friends with an actual close friend. Piven plays this one nice and easy, helping Cusack track down a woman he connected with in New York City before he gets married to someone else.
Piven Levels: SAFE

Old School (2003)
As the nemesis to hard-partying Will Ferrell, Vince Vaughn and Luke Wilson, Piven's Dean Pritchard was a fairly refined, reserved individual. But he was also a huge d-bag, a quality Piven must have delivered pitch-perfectly, since we totally wanted to punch him in the face. Good acting, or a glimpse behind the curtain?
Piven Levels: MEDIUM

Entourage (2004-present)
When the racist, misogynistic, alpha-dog agent Ari Gold first appeared on this show, we loved that he summed up everything that was wrong with Hollywood. And since he was only a supporting character, we could handle small doses of him, then return to following Vincent and company. But after his first Emmy nomination, the writers upped his profile on the show, and he started getting more of his own storylines, going on to win three Emmys in a row. Call it backlash if you have to, but after six seasons, it's getting a little old.
Piven Levels: SAFE to HIGH

Speed the Plow (2008)
Piven made news for doing this David Mamet play when he had to leave the production due to suffering from hydrargaria, a.k.a. mercury poisoning. When it was suggested he got it from eating too much sushi, the press had a field day, and the production actually filed a lawsuit against the actor for lost revenue. William H. Macy took over the role, but Piven is obviously still sensitive about it, recently clashing with Chris Kattan backstage at MTV over a inferred joke. We're sure he's tired of hearing about it, but, frankly, so are we.
Piven (and Mercury) Levels: HIGH

The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard (2008)
Lately, we've been suffering form some Piven poisoning ourselves as the actor has been everywhere promoting his new movie. Not only did he visit the Big Brother house to promote a "car-selling" competition, he even went on World Wrestling Entertainment's Monday Night Raw and took a flying leap at Superstar/movie star John Cena. We can't wait until promotion of the film is over, and he goes on vacation. As to seeing the movie itself... well, our doctor doesn't recommend it.
Piven Levels: TOXIC

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