Steve Coogan appears in Greed, a brash, funny satire with a conscience from Michael Winterbottom, playing a bullying billionaire tycoon, Sir Richard “Greedy” McCreadie.
A tabloid celebrity with a barrow-boy persona, Sir Greedy has wheeled and dealed his way to the top of retail, the King of the High Street, stashing his dosh away in tax-free Monaco where he keeps a $100m superyacht. Any resemblance to an actual person here is entirely intentional. Greed seems to be a thinly veiled portrait of Topshop boss Philip Green.
It begins hilariously, the script written by Winterbottom with additional material, presumably the one-liners and acid burn insults, by The Thick of It and Veep’s Sean Gray.
We meet McCreadie on the Greek island of Mykonos where he is throwing himself a lavish 60th birthday bash. The theme is Ancient Rome, with a toga party and purpose-built amphitheatre. Coldplay and Keith Richards are flying in to play on the beach and the guest list includes McCreadie’s personal international A-lister pals. But things are not going to plan. Syrian refugees camping in UN tents on the beach are ruining the view. The builders have botched the amphitheatre and a lion rented for mock gladiator games has got jetlag – “He looks like a rescue cat that needs to be put down.”
Coogan makes McCreadie a bit of an Alan Partridge; he’s got that same preening, puffed-up self-importance. If anything, his portrait is a bit too likeable. McCreadie is a man known for his psychotic need to bully and humiliate employees. But his bollockings measure a gentle-ish 2.7 magnitude. (Certainly they’re not quite up there with The Thick of It’s lacerating Tuckerisms: “I’d love to stop and chat but I’d rather have Type-2 diabetes.”)