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‘Greed’ Isn’t Good: Fashion Satire Lacks Wit, Humanity

There’s a reason Mike Bloomberg couldn’t pull off a Trump-like takeover of the Democratic party.

He’s lacking the charisma, the show biz panache, that Donald Trump boasts after decades in and around La La Land.

Richard McCreadie has a similar problem in “Greed.” Steve Coogan’s character is a fashion mogul whose public image could use a spit shine. The film spends its full running time savaging both Richard and his brand of extreme capitalism.

Why bother? 

Richard is a bore, a wildly unpleasant fellow with so few redeeming qualities even a priest might kick him out of the confessional. Why build a movie around such a zero?

We first meet Coogan’s character as he prepares for his grandiose 60th birthday party (although his capped teeth are decades younger). He’s sparing no expense, and absolutely nothing is going his way.

That’s fitting given his slow, public fall from grace. The film flashes back to a series of parliamentary inquiries on his business dealings.

Those inquiries let director/co-writer Michael Winterbottom (“The Trip”) spell out his talking points, the kind Helen Keller could sniff out from the narrative.

Then, we learn of his failed businesses trotted out for his embarrassment. I’m an entrepreneur, he rightly argues, and failing is part oft the deal.

We also see Michael as a younger man, a fellow just as mean, cruel and selfish as the mogul he grew up to be. Sad sack journalist (David Mitchell) is tasked with chronicling Richard’s life story so we get even more insight into Richard’s (lack of character).

Is any of this meant to be fun … or funny?

Richard’s zingers aren’t amusing, that’s for sure. They’re just mean. And what a shame, since extreme wealth is ripe for mockery. Instead, Winterbottom’s fury at capitalism overwhelms, well, everything on screen.

You can fully embrace capitalism and acknowledge its numerous flaws. Heck, “Greed” could have brought Left and Right viewers together by spanking Kardashian-sized wealth. Instead, it’s a slog from start to finish.

Richard is a monster thriving within a monstrous system. Great. Got it. Now tell us a remotely entertaining story.

Nothing doing here.

Loosely based on the life of Sir Philip Green, “Greed” clumsily squeezes in a Syrian refugee subplot which grows hoarier as the movie progresses. It’s not enough to contrast the “have it alls” and the “have nots.” “Greed” bludgeons the viewer with Richard’s sketchy “deals,” showcases his quick fuse temper and willingness to berate anyone in his path.

Even President Trump’s most fevered critics would admit he can tell a funny joke and keep a crowd engaged. Where’s Richard’s appeal? That matters since little else in “Greed” is worth sticking around to see.

The film sneaks in a quick stab at reality show theatrics, hitting the obese target for a smattering of well earned smiles.

Poor Shirley Henderson. The 50-something actress is cast as Richard’s hard-charging Ma, and in contemporary scenes appears under atrocious makeup to appear older. It’s a lousy character buried under lousier makeup.

And where’s the dramatic tension? Through the movie Richard doesn’t come close to seeing the error of his ways. Nor does the coliseum-like gala resemble anything other than Fyre Festival lite. What are we rooting for, again? He’s being kicked repeatedly by the screenplay.

What’s left?

It’s hard to tell a compelling story from atop your moral high horse. That’s never more true than in “Greed’s” third act, which takes the film’s rage to catastrophic levels.

HiT or Miss: “Greed” is an unctuous bore, a prime example of a storyteller’s rage overwhelming his artistic senses.

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