A review of ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’

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In his opening dialogue Jordan Belfort boasts that of all the drugs he does, apparently enough to sedate the majority of New York, the one that he loves the most is cold hard cash.  If there was one line in the movie that gave a synopsis, that would be it.wolf “The Wolf of Wall Street” tells the story of Jordan Belfort,  a crooked stock broker running a stock brokering scam, played by Leonardo DiCaprio.  He quickly rises from being a lowly brokerage-house trainee to running his own firm fuelled mainly by drugs, hookers, and enough money to use dwarfs to play darts (yeah, that happens).  Oh, and a little over 500 F-words sprinkled throughout. Seeing as I am a student at Bethel College, it would be hard for me to avoid this topic all together, so let me get this out of the way.  I am not reviewing the movie’s language.  But there is a lot, so if you find yourself easily put off by four-letter words, you are best off avoiding the film and its three-f-words-per-minute average (I did the math). The movie is certainly not one to slow down and give you a break.  The pace of the film is non-stop, moving quickly from year to year, scam to scam, as DiCaprio’s Belfort gives us an explanation in a gravelly voice of exactly why he does what he does.  Belfort is a natural salesman, and as he gets bigger with the help of his awkward sidekick Donnie, an incestuous underdog played by Jonah Hill, so do the scams, and so do his addictions. Throughout the film, Belfort’s demeanor rarely changes and he shows little remorse after finding how quickly he can make money by scamming.  On the opposite he relishes the fact that the more he makes, the more he can live in a grotesque amount of excess, almost trying to moralize it. Belfort expounds, “See, money doesn't just buy a better life, better food, better cars.  It also makes you a better person. You can give generously to the church or a political party of your choice.” It would not be difficult to argue, however, that the movie was much less about stocks and much more about drugs and prostitution.  The shear amount of drugs consumed on screen would make Tony Montana curl up in a ball and cry.  In his typical day, Belfort explains, “I take Quaaludes 10-15 times a day for my back pain. Adderall to stay focused. Xanax to take the edge off, part to mellow me out, cocaine to wake me back up again, and morphine...Well, because it's awesome.”  It wouldn’t be a risk to assume that we see Belfort inebriated more than we see him sober in the movie.  Besides being an expert in scams and narcotics, Belfort is also a connoisseur of escorts, even giving them his own stock market based rating scale. The amount of sex in the movie is astounding.  If there is a comfortable number of office sex scenes that you can put in a movie, which I’m not sure there is, director Martin Scorsese blew through his quota within the first hour of the movie, but didn’t stop. The movie itself is incredulously long as well clocking in at just shy of three hours.  And this wasn’t always three hours of new material.  At points I felt as if I just kept watching the same office party over and over and over again.  While it does very clearly convey the excess in which Belfort, Donnie, and their band of misfit brokers lived in; it does become a bit much.  On the other hand if they ever edit the film for television it may end up being only an hour long. The story itself was entertaining.  There was no doubt that what Belfort was doing was criminally wrong, but the sheer glee and nonstop energy DiCaprio plays the role with make it fun to watch.  You don’t mind hearing him tell in a voice over the inner workings of his stock scam even though it would normally bore me to tears.  As much fun as he was having, however, I find that I didn’t care about what happened to him or any of the other characters.  There were scenes that consisted of Belfort and company sitting around and talking and I found myself immeasurably bored, regardless of the significance of the content. I am doing my best not to critique the morality of the film, because it is just that, a movie.  DiCaprio didn’t actually steal millions of dollars from investors and Hill certainly didn’t marry his cousin in real life.  However there were numerous points where I just felt like cringing throughout the film.  I didn’t think that I had a weak constitution as far as content goes, and I’d be happy to be shown I’m wrong as far as that is concerned, but I can’t help but question how much was really necessary to the film.  I realize that removing all of the offending content would render the movie a forty-five minute jumble of scenes that would likely make the audience feel like it was the one using enough narcotics to knock-out an elephant, but the amount in the movie seemed to shoot right past any semblance of sensible.  The story and acting were undoubtedly excellent, but the sheer amount of everything else, all packed into three hours, only detracted from that.  In the end, there are very few people I could or would recommend this movie to.
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