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Wolf of Wall Street Review – Crappy people being crappy people, on drugs.

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Wolf of Wall Street Review

So The Wolf of Wall Street… it certainly strays from the usual fare of what I watch and review here, but I thought it was a film that’s certainly worth covering for both its good and its bad (and hey, it’s Oscar season!). Not for the obvious reasons, though, as while I did kind of like it overall, the movie is a bit of a mess. By bit, I mean a complete and total trainwreck (but we love trainwrecks).

The simplest way to explain my disappointment is that it totally lacks any sort of direction or development. The story really doesn’t go anywhere, nor do any of the characters, and that makes for a unsatisfying journey. Especially when none of the characters are likable, relatable, or change for the better, and things kind of wind up just how you’d expect. Parts of it were certainly fun, and Martin Scorsese (Director) did a good job showing the ugly side of greed and addiction. But the focus just wasn’t there. We’re lead to believe it’s about stocks and fraud, and really, it’s about shitty, entitled people living shitty, entitled lives and never really being anything but.

First of all, the official synopsis is completely off – 

A New York stock broker refuses to cooperate in a large securities fraud case that includes mob infiltration into Wall Street and the corporate banking world.

That could make for an interesting movie, if that were actually what the story was about. But it’s not – in fact, the fraud case makes up maybe 10% of the film, and only serves as a device to further show how crappy Jordon, the main character, is.

Which is interesting because this is an adaptation of a memoir written by the title character himself – knowing that helps a bit in understanding why the film plays out the way it does.

Leonardo DiCaprio plays an self-obsessed hot-shot stock broker from the late 80’s / early 90’s, recounting his rise and fall as some sort of twisted Christ figure that brings out severe religious zealotism in the name of money and fame. For maybe a brief moment he started out an average guy – just a young kid in New York trying to move up in the world. That lasts for a hot second, and soon the sex, drugs, and dwarf-punting pretty much take up the next 2 1/2 hours.

 

Dolla Billz

New reaction pic when people complain about game companies.

The movie swaps from being directly narrated by Jordon who breaks the fourth wall at times to address the audience,  to watching as a bystander – an interesting design that they could have done more with. We often hear his thoughts and comments, which are prone to off topic ramblings and digressions, and at times we see things from his (clouded and incorrect) point of view which helps add to the humor.

But honestly it just becomes a repeating cycle of sin – a drug-fueled, prostitute laden orgy filled with overt sexual harassment and ferality – at the office, on a boat, on a plane. Wherever.

Perhaps that’s by design – to bombard us with vivid imagery of the most vulgar and base of human desire and filth that we have to at some point just become desensitized to it, much like the characters who seem so brazenly ignorant of the chaos that is their lives. And don’t get me wrong – the vulgarity of the movie didn’t bother me (other people felt differently, though) so much  that there was so much of it, and there really didn’t need to be. The movie could have done with one or two less animalistic parities. It took away from the more interesting parts that might have saved this from being somewhat of a bust.

Who DOESN'T wanna choke Jonah Hill?

Who DOESN’T wanna choke Jonah Hill?

I really hate to say that because, like so many others, I am rooting SO BADLY for Leo. And without a doubt he was fucking phenomenal in this role. So was the writing. Ultimately, I guess it was just the story that kind of sucked, and you can’t really salvage bad source material.

Regardless of my thoughts, Wolf of Wall Street is up for a lot of Oscars this year – if anything, Leo really needs to win for his insanely awesome performance. I’m somewhat dumbfounded Jonah Hill got a nomination for supporting actor – he was the same character he ALWAYS plays (Spoiler – the obnoxious douchebag that ruins everything all the time).

Is it worth seeing? Yes, I’d say it is. It’s fun, if you’re not looking for anything particularly moving and you’re not easily offended by lots and lots of sex. I give it an A-/B+ depending on the day.

Check out some more Wolf of Wall Street Reviews: The Guardian | Daily Mail | Washington Post | NY Times