The Wolf of Wall Street

****

It sucked!It'll be on cable.I liked it.It was good!It was awesome!! (2 People gave this 4.50 out of 5)
Loading...Loading...

Nothing exceeds like excess.

The Wolf of Wall Street

The H-Bomb: Who is Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio)? Well, long and short of it, he’s a coke head, a pill popper, a drunk, a sex addict, an asshole, and one of the most successful brokers on Wall Street. He came from humble beginnings, starting out in the 1980’s as “pond scum” at a brokerage firm, but before the first day was out, he was taken under the wing of hotshot, smooth talking trader Mark Hanna (Matthew McConaughey), who showed him the tricks of the trade and taught him a most valuable lesson: how to make money. Not to make money for the client, fuck the client, but how to make money for himself.

Jordan took the lesson to heart, and for a while, things were going great. Then the market crashed, his firm went under, and he was out of a job. But Jordan isn’t about to let something like that get him down. After all, he was put on this Earth to get rich, period. So, he takes a position at some store front firm selling penny stocks, and before long, he’s showing everyone in that rinky dink office how to spin worthless stocks into thousands of dollars with smoke and mirrors, and some silver tongued sales talk.

Pretty soon, Jordan is starting his own firm, Stratton Oakridge, with a new right hand man, schlubby Donnie Azoff (Jonah Hill) in tow, and starts making money hand over fist. Next thing Jordan knows, he’s the king of the world; throwing decadent parties in his office, snorting cocaine out of a hooker’s ass crack, popping quaaludes like their baby aspirin, buying yachts and mansions, and best of all, courting, banging, and marrying Naomi (Margot Robbie), a blond bombshell who turns heads everywhere she goes.

By the mid-90’s, Jordan is living the dream. But every dream must come to an end, as a number of Jordan’s business ventures have been less than legal, and the authorities, the FBI in particular, are starting to take notice. On top of that, his hard partying and substance abuse are getting completely out of hand. Maybe Jordan will finally learn that there’s more to life than drinking, drugging, and fucking. Maybe he’ll learn that money, as the saying goes, can’t buy happiness… then again, maybe not.

Awards season is once again upon us, and as per usual during this period, I am seeing many a critic compiling top ten lists of what they feel are the best movies of the past year, and one title that seems to be appearing on every single list, often towards the top, is Martin Scorsese’s latest picture, The Wolf of Wall Street. Well, not to be contrarian, but if I were to compile a top ten list of my own, then The Wolf of Wall Street would not be on it. It would make my top twenty list, but even then, it would be somewhere towards the bottom.

I’m not saying that it’s in any way a bad movie. I did rate it four out of five stars, which, I’m sure I don’t have to tell you, is a positive rating, and as entertainment, the movie does deliver in spades. Adapting the real life Jordan Belfort’s memoir, Scorsese employs his typical cinematic trickery; his snappy montages, his striking visual eye, his dark sense of humor, and his pop music soundtrack, to create a visceral, non-stop orgy of excess. A twisted morality tale revolving around a major league douche bag consumed with unquenchable greed and ambition. And for the most part, the film works.

For the first two hours, it’s wickedly funny, brutally audacious, and just wildly entertaining on every level. If Scorsese had ended it after two hours, then he very well could have had one of the very best films of the year. Unfortunately, he inexplicably felt that the movie needed to be three hours long, and by the third hour, the non-stop decadence just became too damn much. I can only watch this guy snort so much coke, give so many bombastic pep talks, and fuck so many women, before it starts to feel repetitive and numbing. When the film finally reaches its overdue conclusion, I had long stopped having fun, and I long stopped caring. Towards the end I was thinking, “Will the feds please just throw this piece of shit in prison so I can go have a cigarette?”

I might be ruffling feathers by daring to criticize Scorsese the Great and Powerful, but I’m not budging on this point, three hours is way too long to spend with a cretin like Jordan Belfort, and the fact that Scorsese didn’t really seem to have anything to say about the guy didn’t help. Like I said, it is a morality tale, but the hedonism is heaped on so heavily, that I can’t help but wonder if the moral of the story gets buried under all the mountains of blow. Scorsese would have had a much more effective film if it weren’t so indulgently overlong.

But, the bloated running time and sense of repetition aside, The Wolf of Wall Street is still one hell of a good movie, featuring yet another knockout lead performance from DiCaprio. He’s once again up for the Best Actor Oscar, and though I don’t think he’ll be taking home the statue this year, it won’t be from lack of trying. With Belfort, he takes a positively scummy guy, a human cockroach that I would normally want nothing to do with, and actually makes him charismatic and quasi-tolerable. He pulls out all the stops playing this amoral, chauvinistic shit bag of a character, and his scuffle with Jonah Hill while they’re both bombed on quaaludes is absolutely hysterical.

Speaking of Hill, he too is terrific as the slimy, cousin marrying Donnie, who at first seems to be played entirely for laughs, but as the movie progresses, some semblance of humanity comes through. McConaughey gets a fantastic scene where he takes Belfort to lunch, I just wish he hadn’t disappeared from the film so soon. Kyle Chandler is solid in his smallish role as the FBI Agent who investigates Belfort over the course of several years, and Rob “Meat Head” Reiner gets some laughs as Belfort’s temperamental father, who is a little disgusted by his son’s lifestyle.

Looking at everything The Wolf of Wall Street has going for it, from the first rate performances, to the profane, razor sharp writing, to Rodrigo Prieto’s splendid cinematography, it should have been an absolute slam dunk. Sadly, for me, it overstayed its welcome. Again, I still liked it quite a bit, it just isn’t among my absolute favorites of the year. It’s had the pedigree to be a truly great film, if only Scorsese knew when to say when.

 


Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.