The Wolf of Wall Street – Movie Review

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Let’s be real, you and I both knew we’d be watching this movie when we first saw the trailer. It’s a Scorsese film and DiCaprioplaying the coked-out, stockbroker-asshole lead. What about that is unappealing? Nothing, that’s what.

I don’t think I even asked my husband if he wanted to come see this one with me. I believe what I did, was announce that we’d be going because, “how could we not?” Christoph nodded and we were off. We chose an early showing, something before noon. We knew this movie would be a three-hour journey, so we had to plan accordingly.

While I was excited that I was finally going to see The Wolf, I was concerned about the obscenely lengthy running time. Three hours is a long time, man. I love movies, but I love being outside, doing stuff, too.  Since I work from my house all week and only leave for errands and such, I try to make the most of my weekends out. Sitting in a theater for over three hours is an investment—a serious commitment of time.  I wasn’t sure if I was ready, but by the time I realized that, it was too late. Christoph had found an excellent parking spot the moment we drove into the parking lot and you just don’t walk away from luck like that—not in the Bay Area. Besides, coincidence always has a way of convincing me.

Inside the movie theater, as I put my purse on the seat next to mine, took off my impossibly long scarf and propped my feet up onto the rail in front of me, Christoph leaned over. “I bet there are 20 trailers before this three-hour movie,” he scoffed. That’s when I remembered that the 180-minute running time did not include trailers and other commercials. We’d be in these seats for closer to 3.5 hours, maybe more. Wonderful, I thought to myself. “This better be worth it,” I whispered back to him. As the theater lights began to dim, Christoph nodded vigorously in agreement.

The Wolf of Wall Street is a story based on the life of Jordan Belfort. Belfort is a former stockbroker that made a LOT of money, partied harder than you will ever know and was ultimately convicted of fraud. I know this story sounds “done,” but it’s not been done like this before. I can assure you of that.

We meet Jordan in 1987; he’s been hired at a brokerage firm on Wall Street. It’s his first day and he’s being put in his place by the office asshole, when he bumps into the office hero (and his boss) Mark Hanna (Matthew McConaughey). Mark likes Jordan straight away and sees something special in him. He decides to take him out to lunch later that same day.

Mark Hanna breaks down what it means to, not only work on Wall Street, but also be successful on Wall Street, all during a single business lunch. Belfort being the ambitious and astute young grasshopper that he is, listens attentively the entire time. With that, we are ushered deeper into Scorsese’s version of Jordan Belfort’s story.

The Wolf of Wall Street attempts to herald what was missed when Gordon Gekko told us that, “greed is good.” In Scorsese’s film, the rise and fall of Belfort plays out manically. The entire experience is the message, not just the moral of the story. The bad bits always seem to serve a purpose and I like when they’re not just skipped over in favor of magnifying or manufacturing a sanitized and purely positive experience.

I believe when I first got up to leave the movie theater, after the credits began to roll, I said to Christoph, “that’s gonna win an Oscar” and I’m still pretty sure that it will. Usually, after I’ve gone back over the movie in my head, and written up my notes on what I did and didn’t like, I become less giddy and more realistic. The fact that I still think it’ll garner a major award speaks to the caliber of Scorsese’s latest project.

The Wolf of Wall Street GifSource

McConaughey’s eccentricity fits that opening moment perfectly and sets a very true-to-life and quirky tone for the rest of the film. I say true-to-life and I’m talking about a movie where there’s dwarf tossing, naked poon and Jonah Hill’s dick everywhere. Ha! I suppose what I mean when I say true-to-life, is the way the film captures a moment in time—the late 80s to early 90s—precisely.

Granted, my memory of that era is a little distorted, because I was only 10 at the time. On the other hand, ten was old enough for me to remember. I liked to people-watch from the beginning, so I was already taking note of what was going on around me by ten.  The obsession with being rich was most definitely something I saw spreading. The Wolf of Wall Street manages to take that moment in history and create a cinematic caricature of it, which makes this movie comical and entertaining as hell. Sure it’s a black comedy, but life sucks and there’s no getting around that part so we might as well laugh in its face, right?

There’s a lot to like about this film so I’ll start with the obvious, Leonardo DiCaprio. You know, it’s sad; I always look for something not to like about his performances. For whatever reason I want to dislike this guy, but it’s impossible. He does a fantastic job of translating a colorful personality, like Jordan Belfort’s, to the silver screen. You can see that DiCaprio shoved everything he had into each over-the-top moment in the script. It’s captivating and energizing. Mmm, living vicariously through someone else’s drug addictions, what better way to appreciate tragedy?

The Wolf of Wall Street Still

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While DiCaprio is great, the standout in this film is another. I blew my own mind when I realized that Jonah Hill nailed it—hard. Hill made me a believer in whatever he was selling, almost instantly. As a matter of fact, I thought I was over this guy and his brand of humor. I actually thought I’d have to “tolerate” Hill in order to enjoy The Wolf. Turns out, I was mistaken; he blew me away. He owned every scene, playing a special kind of annoying. Through his portrayal of Donnie Azoff, Hill conjured an exquisite form of aggravating, the kind that makes you want to rip out your own nose hairs one by one. By the end of the movie, you’ll want to choke the life out of his eyes and it’s marvelous.

The costumes and sets were pivotal in truly catapulting me back into the late 80s and early 90s. They were executed perfectly. Nothing in this respect was over done which complimented the aggressive nature of the film. Martin Scorsese has pieced together another winner, folks. That’s about all there is to it. He translated a sentiment into a three-hour film and every inch of it works.

Actually I kinda take that back. I suppose I don’t have a problem with a movie being three hours, if necessary. Were all three hours of The Wolf  necessary, though? I dunno. Was every minute of that dwarf-tossing-meeting scene necessary? Not likely. Scorsese could have made this a two-hour movie if he wanted, but he chose not to. It does makes sense that a movie about addiction to excess is borderline obscenely long. However, next time someone makes a long-ass movie, can you give me an intermission? Holding it is bad for your kidneys and bladder. All I’m asking for is a pee break, y’all.

With that said, Scorsese’s Wolf materializes a bygone era. This movie reminds us what it took to get to “today” and simultaneously holds up a coke-dusted mirror so we can see that we’re dangerously close to square one. The story moves at a frenzied pace and makes lasting impressions with its fury. If you’ve seen Boiler Room (another movie about Belfort’s exploits) you might wonder if The Wolf of Wall Street is just repackaging something you’ve already experienced. I can tell you right now, that is not the case. Boiler Room was about the hustle, whereas The Wolf of Wall Street is about the lifestyle and consequences.

My only hope for The Wolf of Wall Street is that every finance asshole in an Audi doesn’t take this as a call to action, the way they did with Gordon Gekko’s greed speech in Wall Street. I suppose I shouldn’t be too worried, it’s quite obvious from the get go that The Wolf of Wall Street is a different animal entirely. Do yourself a favor; watch it the way it’s meant to be seen, in a movie theater.

 

The Wolf of Wall Street Movie Poster

 

 

 

The Wolf of Wall Street – A

A = Movies this good don’t happen often and If you’re going to watch something you should watch this. This is exactly what I go looking for when I go to the movies and I trust you’ll enjoy it if you keep an open mind and give it a go.

 

 

 

 

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