Director Michael Winterbottom’s new film is a comic take on the lives of the hideously wealthy.
Greed is a mockumentary that follows asset-stripping, tax-avoiding retail boss Sir Richard “Greedy” McCreadie.
Played by Steve Coogan, McCreadie makes billions buying up high street fashion outlets and selling off their property—leaving a trail of bankruptcies.
The main inspiration here is Phillip Green, the billionaire who sucked huge profits out of BHS before leaving the company to go under. Just like Green, McCreadie lives the private yacht lifestyle while his workers make a pittance.
The film follows McCreadie as he prepares for his 60th birthday party.
The multimillion pound toga party is an orgy of bad taste and vanity.
McCreadie orders a replica of the Colosseum, so he can live out his Russell Crowe-inspired fantasies of being a Roman gladiator.
He even has some refugees—who have washed on his Mediterranean beach—dressed up as Roman slaves so they don’t spoil the place for his guests.
So on paper, Greed seems like a much-needed skewering of the rich.
But there’s a problem—and it’s a big problem for a comedy. The film is simply not funny.
It’s not the type of satire that makes you feel like ordinary people have got one up on the rich.
Much of the humour revolves around McCreadie’s extravagant use of four letter words to bollock his employees.
McCreadie’s downtrodden inferiors are just props. They show what a bastard he is. But they almost never get one back on him.
What’s more, jokes about an “underclass” who voted for Brexit mean that this critique of the excesses of capitalism smells suspiciously of liberalism.
That suspicion can only heighten with a walk on role by Stephen Fry, who plays himself with his usual private school persona.
Tellingly, he is the only character who manages to make some jokes at McCreadie’s expense.
Not even Asim Chaudhry, who plays Chabuddy G in the BBC’s hilarious People Just Do Nothing, manages to inject any real laughs into the film.
Unfortunately, Greed is a wasted opportunity to properly lampoon the Monaco set and their vacuous lifestyles.