This satire about the uber-wealthy is one odd film, a movie that doesn't quite add up to the sum of its parts.
"Greed is good." - Gordon Gekko, "Wall Street."
Well clearly, Gordon wasn't referring to "Greed," the new film starring Steve Coogan. In it, Coogan plays fictitious billionaire Sir Richard McCreadie, a man who made most of his riches in the fashion industry (the character is supposedly loosely based on Philip Green, owner of retail chains Top Shop and High Street).
McCreadie is in the middle of planning a massive 60th birthday bash for himself, on the Greek island of Mykonos, where he spends much of his time along with his supermodel girlfriend (Shanina Shaik). A biographer (David Mitchell) is on-site working on a book about McCreadie, as is his bitter son (Asa Butterfield) and jubilant ex-wife (Isla Fisher). These are the upper-rich - the top 1% of the 1% - who are spending their time wondering if they should get Elton John or Coldplay to play the event.
They're also literally building a mini-Colosseum, complete with a real lion named Clarence, where ancient-style Gladiatorial battles will commence as part of the entertainment.
Oh, and those real Syrian refugees living on the beach, and visible from the party, have got to go...totally not a good look for the guests.
There are some interesting characters - McCreadie included - that buzz around and intermingle with one another over the course of the film. A few moments work, but far too many don't. "Greed" never quite congeals into anything hard-hitting, and is likely way too "out there" to appeal to most movie-goers.
It's also a jumble of ideas. Is "Greed" truly a satire on the filthy rich? Or is it a commentary on Syrian refugees? As the film comes to a shocking and not at all satisfying conclusion, graphics appear on the screen commenting on the refugee problem...a sub-plot that was definitely present during the film but never the focus. What, exactly, is this movie trying to say and what's the point of it all? I don't think it knows.
Coogan and director Michael Winterbottom have teamed up several times in the past (their popular "Trip" series of films is currently coming out with a fourth chapter), so there may be an audience for those that find themselves fascinated with this pairing and their other films. But "Greed" isn't as good as it thinks it is.
Genre: Comedy, Drama.
Run Time: 1 hour 44 minutes.
Starring: Steve Coogan, Isla Fisher, Shirley Henderson, Asa Butterfield, David Mitchell.
Written and Directed by Michael Winterbottom ("The Wedding Guest," "The Trip to Spain," "The Trip to Italy," "On the Road," "The Trip," "Wonderland," "Welcome to Sarajevo").
"Greed" is in theaters on Friday, March 6th, 2020.
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