Something of a lost movie, “Greedy” features a cracking cast of 1990s comic talent in an old-fashioned farce as a family vie for their elderly uncle’s affections and, more importantly, vast fortune.
Uncle Joe (Kirk Douglas) isn’t getting any younger or any less curmudgeonly. He’s also a millionaire, which is why his family is trying so very hard to get into his good books. When they discover he has acquired a sexy young nurse – who they suspect has designs on the old coot’s fortune herself – they decide to track down Joe’s favourite nephew Danny (Michael J Fox) and use him to make sure the money goes to those who deserve it.
As someone who counts “My Stepmother Is An Alien” as one of their favourite guilty pleasures, a film that opens with Jimmy Durante was always going to pique my interest. In a funny sort of way, “Greedy” feels like a film out of time, a 50s screwball comedy too late in 1994 for the brief renaissance they enjoyed in the 80s. The ingredients are all there and the cast is terrific but something doesn’t quite click and it never feels like it achieves its potential.
Kirk Douglas is great value as the sly Uncle Joe while Michael J Fox and Nancy Travis are dependably likeable as the heroes of the tale but much of the comedy comes from the duplicitous and deplorable family members plotting and scheming to get their hands on his money. The late Phil Hartman again demonstrates what a loss his death was and Ed Begley Jr and the rest of the cast provide a rich array of comic potential.
It’ll happily pass a rainy afternoon and leave you with a smile on your face, but, I always felt like I was waiting for it to kick into a high gear it never manages. “Greedy” is well-crafted, genially performed and competently directed by Jonathan Lynn but despite everything it has going for it, it somehow manages to be a little less than the sum of its parts.