By Lynn Venhaus
A satire of the super-rich, “Greed” focuses on Sir Richard “Greedy” McCreadie (Steve Coogan), a snotty prep school dropout (Jamie Blackley in flashback) who parlayed selling cheap clothes in London’s rag district into a billionaire lifestyle.
He is throwing himself a “The Great Gatsby” meets “Gladiator” meets “The Godfather” 60th birthday party on a Greek island. His staff, family, hired help and unfortunate refugees are all making his ‘moment’ miserable.
Easy targets here, and slinging arrows at one percenters has been done ad infinitum, so there is not much to separate “Greed” from other exercises in skewering excess.
While lampooning ridiculous people can be fun and some bullseyes are sharp, this film does not have anything different – let alone laugh-out-loud funny — that makes it special or worth spending nearly two hours’ watching.
Therefore, any spoofing of Kardashian-like reality TV, the focus on indulgences and entitlement of the privileged class and the scheming of truly awful people is not that engaging.
The movie’s a manic mess, jumping from introducing “Sir Shifty” of the tabloids to his family drama to party preparation.
As written by director Michael Winterbottom, with additional material by Emmy winner Sean Gray of “Veep,” the main characters are tedious and boorish with little to redeem them.
Radiating rich-guy arrogance, tan Steve Coogan, with blinding white fake teeth, is believable as a slick retail magnate with questionable ethics, decadent lifestyle and shoddy business practices. Coogan often plays jerks, so this isn’t a stretch.
Winterbottom and Coogan have worked together well before, particularly “The Trip” movies, especially “The Trip to Italy” and “The Trip to Spain.” Upcoming is “The Trip to Greece” (hmmm…). The production values are handsome.
Faring well are Shirley Henderson as McCreadie’s feisty widowed mother, and Isla Fisher as a steely yet shallow ex-wife who berates their son Finn, played by Asa Butterfield, for his wispy facial hair and aimlessness.
While it had promise as a mockumentary, “Greed” winds up an insufferable episode of “The Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” without much to amuse.
“Greed” is a comedy rated R for pervasive language and brief drug use. DIrected by Michael Winterbottom, it stars Steve Coogan, Isla Fisher, Asa Butterfield and Shirley Henderson. Run time: 1 hr. 44 min. Lynn’s Grade: C
Lynn Venhaus has had a continuous byline in St. Louis metro region publications since 1978. She is a Rotten Tomatoes-approved film critic, currently reviews films for Webster-Kirkwood Times and KTRS Radio, covers entertainment for PopLifeSTL.com and co-hosts podcast PopLifeSTL.com…Presents, and writes features and news for Belleville News-Democrat and contributes to other publications. She is a member of CCA, AWFJ and St. Louis Film Critics Association. She is a founding member of the St. Louis Theater Circle.