You'd think that any director who could deliver a hilarious film like "My Cousin Vinny" and any writing team that could churn out "City Slickers" would have a line on creating good comedies. But "Greedy", about a bunch of gold-digging relatives who can't wait for their wealthy uncle to kick off, is surprisingly inept. It's not as stupid as films like this are usually in danger of becoming, but neither is it funny.
Uncle Joe (Kirk Douglas), who made millions of dollars from his scrap metal business, is getting up there in years and several of his nieces and nephews are eager for what they hope is a bountiful inheritance. Frank (Phil Hartman), Carl (Ed Begley jr.), Glen (Jere Burns), Patti (Colleen Camp), Ed (Bob Balaban) and their families are akin to vultures, not above naming all of their children Joe in an attempt to win his favor. They are also not above hiring private detectives to scope out dirt on each other which they can then innocently relate to Uncle Joe who might then cut down the offending person's share in favor of the others. Naturally, the mud slings in all directions and nobody is immune.
This unapologetically greedy family is thrown into turmoil by Uncle Joe's recent acquisition of a nubile young nurse named Molly (Olivia d'Abo). The threat is made that the grovelers may be written out of the will in favor of Molly, who may or may not be having a physical relationship with Uncle Joe. In desperation, the nieces and nephews locate Uncle Joe's favorite relative, Daniel (Michael J. Fox). Daniel, whose father refuses to wheedle along with his siblings, is a so-so pro bowler without a greedy bone in his body. He goes along with the nieces and nephews just because it has been too long since he's seen his great uncle, and also because he would like to borrow a sum of money to start a business.
Eventually Daniel gets swept up in the rampant avarice. Uncle Joe decides to place control of his fortune in the hands of one person and so the film degenerates into a showdown between Daniel and Molly. But everything is not as it appears on the surface. Uncle Joe is more devious than anyone imagines.
It's been a while since I've run across a comedy as labored and pointless as "Greedy". The only good comic performance in the film is given by "Saturday Night Live" regular Phil Hartman as the relentless Frank. One of the problems with the film is that it isn't substantial enough wield the arc of Michael J. Fox's character from selfless to greedy back to selfless. But the chief obstacle to the success of "Greedy" is that it just doesn't contain many laughs. And if a comedy isn't funny, what good is it?