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By Hal Hinson
Washington Post Staff Writer
March 04, 1994


Jonathan Lynn
Ed Begley Jr.;
Colleen Camp;
Bob Balaban;
Phil Hartman;
Kirk Douglas;
Olivia d'Abo
Children under 13 should be accompanied by a parent

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At the end of "Greedy," the hopeless new comedy from the writing team of Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel ("Splash, "Parenthood," "City Slickers"), one of the main characters -- who has been confined to a wheelchair for most of the film -- stands up and does what I had been dying to do ever since the opening credits: He walks.

"Greedy" stars Kirk Douglas -- in his worst movie since "Tough Guys" and maybe his worst ever -- as Uncle Joe, a crabby scrap metal tycoon with roughly $20 million in the bank and a flock of scavenging relatives just waiting for him to keel over. Of course, Joe is well aware of their designs, and, for years, has used their remorseless greed as a sure-fire way of manipulating them for his own amusement. His latest plot hinges on the presence of a blatantly unregistered nurse named Molly (Olivia d'Abo), a lovely Brit with an hourglass resume who showed up one day delivering a pizza and hasn't left since.

Once they lay eyes on the shapely Molly, the relatives -- played by Ed Begley Jr., Colleen Camp, Bob Balaban and a sadly ill-used Phil Hartman, among others -- are convinced that Joe plans to leave all his dough to her. They decide to make one last-ditch effort. If they can find little Danny -- the darling tyke who used to entertain Joe with his Jimmy Durante impersonation and remains the only member of the family Joe likes -- they could pit him against Molly and keep Joe's money in the family.

Danny's arrival gives the film a brief boost, for no reason other than it provides some relief from the company of these stifling bores. Unfortunately, though, the respite is a short one. Danny, played charmlessly by Michael J. Fox, has grown up to become an unsuccessful professional bowler who is ready to call it quits -- that is, if he could find some other way to pay the bills. Which, of course, is where ole Joe comes in.

All the ingredients are in place for a farcical romp around the themes of family and greed, but director Jonathan Lynn ("My Cousin Vinny") takes an approach to comedy that is grotesquely broad. Fox is getting too old for these cutesy-pie roles, and as Danny's wife, Nancy Travis, is forced to react to situations for which there are no plausible human reactions. Their best hope is that "Greedy" will vanish quickly from public view.

Greedy is rated PG-13.

© Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company

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