This is one of those times when a generic title pairs perfectly with it’s generic movie. There’s a lot going on in the dramedy “Greed” — but none of it is worth an investment.
Steve Coogan (with glowing pearly white teeth) plays British fashion mogul Sir Richard McCreadie. The aging egomaniac is turning 60. So he decides to throw an elaborate birthday party — for himself — on an exotic Greek island. Joining him are ex-wife (Isla Fisher), his new, much younger girlfriend and his unstable kids. His daughter is the star of a relationship reality show (a crew is capturing her every move). One son is in the awkward, young-adult phase (another thankless role for Asa Butterfield).
Hundreds of “friends” and celebrities have been invited to the extravaganza. An arena is constructed for the Roman Gladiator-themed event. Even a real lion is shipped in (McCreadie is obsessed with Ridley Scott’s 2000 film). McCreadie’s elderly mom is on hand. There are unwanted refugees camping on the beach. And McCreadie is constantly being watched by his quirky, wisecracking biographer. In fact, every character in “Greed” is quirky and wisecracking.
Writer/director Michael Winterbottom (“The Trip”) attempts to expose truths about the absurd lifestyle of the wealthy v. the plight of the poor. We’re beaten over the head with the contrast between the sweatshop workers who produce McCreadie’s clothing and those who buy/wear it. None of this is new or convincing. A recent Anderson Cooper “60 Minutes” piece on the economic disparity between Monaco’s multi-millionaires and local laborers was 10x more eye-opening.
Coogan’s McCreadie is constantly and desperately trying to impress. That sums-up this entire movie. And they both fail, miserably. There’s non-stop celeb name dropping and legit cameos from Ben Stiller, Keira Knightley, Colin Firth and Stephen Fry. These are supposed to provide realism and a sense of purpose — but “Greed” has neither.
Every scene consists of a) a set-up, b) a few minutes of dialogue, leading to c) a snarky, “only in the movies” zinger (remember – everybody’s a quirky wisecracker) and then d) a quick cut to the next scene.
The climax is a roaring mess. And facts and photos presented in the end credits are a pathetic attempt to convey what this film couldn’t in the previous hour and 40 minutes.
To sum it up: “Greed” isn’t good.