The Wolf of Wall Street

The Wolf of Wall Street

Starring: Leonard DiCaprio & Jonah Hill

Rating: R

Time: 179 Minutes

I have been looking forward to this movie since reading the book.  I absolutely loved the book; it was such a page turner that I left a dinner party early in order to finish it.  When the trailers for the film starting coming out at the beginning of 2013 I could not have been more excited.

That excitement lasted until stories of editing issues came out, and the release date was pushed back over a month.  This is never a good sign for a movie, especially a movie directed by Martin Scorcese and starring Leonardo DiCaprio.  They could film paint drying and I am sure they would get nominated for something.

I saw the movie the day before with my buddy Ben and we both came away with the same reaction.  In order to be fair to the film I am going to review it in two parts, since with a run time of 3 hours it did feel like two ninety minute movies put together.

The first ninety minutes is everything anyone who read the book expected it to be; hookers, blow, and stock fraud.  This part of the story is so fast paced it feels like it goes by in the blink of the eye, it tells the story of how Jordan Belfort went from a failed stock broker to the “Wolf of Wall Street”.  The fact that he is essentially defrauding his clients to make his millions is easily neglected by the incredibly crazy and depraved hijinks Belfort and his cohorts partake in.  Midget tossing, prostitutes in the office, cocaine and Quaalude binges, and the list goes on.   With everything going on it would be easy for the actors to be overshadowed by all the craziness but DiCaprio and Jonah Hill definitely shined.  DiCaprio as always was incredibly convincing in his role as Belfort, but it was Jonah Hill playing side-kick Donnie who really stood out.  Wearing fake teeth and sporting a ridiculous Waspy accent, Jonah Hill disappeared into the role of an appliance salesman turned stock broker.  Roberth Reiner, Matthew McConaughey, Kyle Chandler and Margot Robbie also turned in fantastic performances.  If I had to grade the first ninety minutes I would give it an A-.  But since this is a Scorcese film there was a lot more to come.

The second part of the film shows what happens when you binge on drugs, cheat on your wife, and defraud people of their money.  Eventually the law and your addiction comes calling and it is not pretty.  While not being over the top in consequences, the last part of the film was definitely a downer and the pace of the film drastically slowed down.  I felt like Scorcese could have cut some parts of this part down and should have elaborated more on others.  While still good, it did not keep up with the first part and definitely left me feeling a little let down.  I would give this section of the film a C.

All in all The Wolf of Wall Street is a good film, not great but good.  Many critics complained that it was too depraved and vulgar; I did not find that to be an issue.  I actually enjoyed that the script used the F word over 500 times and showed how wild and crazy these people were.  I did feel that the second half was too slow and did not focus on the right part of the stories.  I also felt that never showing the victims of Belfort’s crimes is a missed opportunity.  It is hard to view Belfort as a real criminal when his crimes are never shown.  I understood why Belfort never focused on this in his book, but I think Scorcese missed an opportunity by not humanizing the victims.  The movie was good, but in the end I feel like it missed its mark.

Grade: B-