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Over-the-top movie is like ‘horror show’

If you want over-the-top, that's what Greed delivers.

The Michael Winterbottom and Steve Coogan satire takes aim at corporate greed, the ludicrously rich and the dehumanising aspects of capitalism in a cautionary tale about a high street fast fashion mogul.

But it doesn't just take aim, Greed fires catapults of giant, flaming rocks in their direction until all subtlety, nuance and self-reflection have been erased.

That doesn't mean the caricature-heavy Greed is not effective (and good for many laughs) because it is, but if you were looking for a considered film, this isn't it. There's no missing its point - greed devours all.

Wildly ambitious and often biting, Greed is centred on Coogan's Sir Richard McCreadie (get it, rhymes with greedy), a man whose personality and appetites are as oversized as his blindingly white teeth.

McCreadie heads up a fashion conglomerate modelled off the holdings of Philip Green, the controversial Top Shop boss. McCreadie's products are cheap and disposable, cycling through his young customers' wardrobes with the same frequency as he utters venomous invectives.

 

Those teeth.
Those teeth.

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For his 60th birthday, McCreadie is throwing a multimillion-dollar bash on Mykonos, complete with a barely constructed gladiatorial arena and a real-life lion brought in for the extravagant festivities.

Just don't let McCreadie see the Syrian refugees on the beach again.

McCreadie has gathered his nearest and dearest including his estranged wife Samantha (Isla Fisher), insecure and desperate-to-please son Finn (Asa Butterfield), reality star daughter Lily (Sophie Cookson), his piece-of-work mother (Shirley Henderson in prosthetics) and new, much younger girlfriend Naomi (Shanina Shaik), plus many hangers-on and employees.

McCreadie is crass, brutish and entirely unadmirable, while his family doesn't stack up many traits in the redeeming column either - that you don't just turn away from these louts is largely thanks to the impeccable comedic timing of Coogan, Fisher and the marvellous Henderson.

The whole weekend, which promises paid-for celebrities, is being documented by a camera crew and journalist Nick (David Mitchell) who also visited McCreadie's poorly paid factory workers in a far-flung South Asian country.

While no expenses have been spared for McCreadie's bash, he's an absolute penny pincher in business - drive down costs, wring every bit of profit and stuff the exploited workers making low quality jeans for $1.50 a day, or the 11,000 retail employees who lose their jobs.

As long as McCreadie can still pay his family a £1.2 billion ($A2.15 billion) dividend with which to go yacht-shopping in tax haven Monaco.

 

Toga parties are so 1990s.
Toga parties are so 1990s.

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Frequent Coogan collaborator Winterbottom, who wrote and directed Greed, uses humour to explain some of the intricacies of how corporate titans structure their house of cards so that the money they "lose" whenever their empires collapse is never theirs.

It's amusing and mildly informative, but you have to wonder if Greed's message is one that actually imprints, especially when it's packaged with so many bits and bobs. Greed is a movie that tries to do too much.

Greed is like a Gravitron ride at a second-rate carnival - fast-spinning and head-whirling, dazzling you with lights and a visceral sensation, but leaves you feeling a bit ill afterwards. Like the unhappy contents of your stomach after such a ride, it's a horror show of excess.

It's a short-term experience that shocks with its extremes, but is it enough to move you to change your consumption habits? Will you stop yourself from buying that $20 pleather Zara belt next time you're in a Westfield?

Probably not.

Rating: 3/5

Greed is available for digital purchase on video-on-demand platforms now, and on DVD/Blu-ray and for digital rental from July 15

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Originally published as Over-the-top movie is like 'horror show'



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