In this anemic movie, a toxic family gathers for the 80th birthday of the patriarch to check out the state of his health and their inheritance.


A Illusion review by Joan Ellis.

"Greedy" is simply awful. In this anemic movie, a toxic family gathers for the 80th birthday of the patriarch to check out the state of his health and their inheritance. Uncle Joe monitors their avarice from his wheel chair and hatches a counterplot. Such a timeworn premise can still be the stuff of comedy in the hands of a good director making merry with lighthearted writers and actors. No such luck here.

Kirk Douglas plays Uncle Joe as a wily old guy who longs to see the only decent apple in the barrel, his nephew Danny, who enchanted him long ago with a Jimmy Durante impersonation before disappearing from his life. Worried by Uncle Joe's disapproval, the oldest ingrate seeks and finds the enchanting nephew and offers to cut him in on the inheritance if he succeeds in persuading the old man to leave his money to the family rather than to the sexy blonde who is enriching his old age.

This plot is embedded in an uninspired script that is laced with the deadly sin of comedy--predictability. Predictability works wonderfully when it is telegraphed by genius. Try this instead: after Danny throws a bowling ball out the window, he runs out to apologize to the woman whose car it demolished and she replies, "That's o.k., it's a rental." If you are laughing now, you may want to see this one.

Olivia d'Abo and Nancy Travis hit right notes as the threatening bombshell and the mercifully restrained lone conscience in the group; everyone else is a labored caricature. Kirk Douglas tries valiantly to retain his dignity, but is unconvincing in the role of a silly old man. His trademark bravery and bravado are still straining to break through. Michael J. Fox plays Danny as a silly young man who runs around endlessly in his boxer shorts for no apparent reason.

In the most embarrassing of all his mistakes, director Jonathan Lynn is pretentious enough to think he has a comedy that is rooted in pathos. Whenever Uncle Joe contemplates his intolerable family and his own loneliness, serious music signals the gravity of his unspoken thoughts. We wait vainly for the joke that must come but doesn't. Mr. Lynn is serious.

The inconceivable possibility exists that people who loved the grotesque family of the Home Alones, I & II, may cotton to this one. If you thrilled to crooks crashing on their spines after slipping on balls, collapsing ladders and burning ropes planted by a ten year old boy who has been enriched beyond imagination for his efforts, the violence here may not be enough for you. Only once does an insufferable child hit his father with a baseball bat. If the studio hype is right and it turns into a box office hit, then this review can go in my "soldier-out-of-step" file, along with my reviews of all MaCaulay Culkin movies.

Film Critic: JOAN ELLIS
Word Count: 488
Studio: Universal/Image Entertainment
Rating: PG-13

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