Saturday, January 4, 2014

MOVIE REVIEW: "The Wolf of Wall Street"

The Wolf of Wall Street

Packed with plenty of punch,
a bevy of babes and a cast of
crazy characters, this movie
would have been one heck
of a hoot had the story not
been so perfectly pathetic.

From the rip-roaring '80s to the high-flying '90s, The Wolf of Wall Street chronicles the true life exploits of infamous, multi-millionaire New York stockbroker, Jordan Belfort. And it possesses all of the key ingredients of a truly great film. Director Martin Scorsese is an industry icon. Starring in the lead role, Leonardo DiCaprio arguably is the greatest actor of his generation. And the world-class cast also features some of today's biggest names, including Jonah Hill and Matthew McConaughey. Yes, on the surface, The Wolf of Wall Street seems like a riveting tale. However, a few aspects of the story compromise the film's enjoyment factor.

Leonardo DiCaprio as the
happy-go-lucky Jordan Belfort.
A) Jordan Belfort, the main guy for whom the audience should be cheering turns out to be a self-centered, greed-driven, wife-beating, alcoholic / junkie, adulterer, conman / snitch who bilked countless innocent people out of millions (and millions) of dollars. But DiCaprio is super-hunky and is surrounded throughout the film by a constant procession of fetching, high-priced call girls, which I guess is supposed to endear the Belfort character to viewers and allow us to overlook his slew of "shortcomings."

B) The celebration and glorification of the shameless, decadent, sex, drugs and money lifestyle of seemingly every character in the film (whether factual or fictional) is so grotesquely over the top that I rushed home from the theater immediately to shove a toothbrush down my throat and attempt  to scrub my soul clean of the filth that I just ingested.

Well if it was that disgusting, why didn't you just get up and leave?

Again, two reasons...

A) Margot Robbie as Belfort's second wife, Naomi, is uh, a really great actress. And I, uh, didn't want to miss a second of her award-winning performance. Uh yeah, that's it!

B) I was waiting for some type off payoff. A story that's this sick surely must have a huge payoff coming at some point, right? Wrong!

Margot Robbie - I was captivated 
by her unique acting skills.
Even as his world and empire are collapsing and he's heading off to prison, Belfort never really shows any remorse — as if he's truly a swell guy, a victim for whom we should feel sorry. Belfort even boasts in the film that because of his wealth, his prison time was served in a country club-style minimum security facility. Oh thank goodness our dashing hero didn't have to suffer by being locked up with the ugly criminals.

In fact, the only two truly likable characters in the entire film are Belfort's first wife, Teresa Petrillo (Cristin Milioti), who questions Belfort's ethics from the beginning and is one of his most heartbreaking victims, and Patrick Denham (Kyle Chandler), the FBI agent who finally brings Belfort down — along with many of his Wall Street cronies.

The statement is made during the film that, "being rich makes you a better person." But with Belfort serving as the poster boy for Lifestyles of the Rich and (in)Famous, I find that observation to be a rather tough one to choke down.

In sum, I did get my $7 worth. The Wolf of Wall Street is certainly entertaining — for what it is, and Leonardo DiCaprio delivers a simply superb performance. The story itself was just gross. But fortunately, through the blood of Christ, there is forgiveness and grace available for everyone — even Jordan Belfort. And I hope that at some point, he reaches out and accepts it. Given his motivational "gift," he could be wildly effective in the ministry.

-Christopher Long
(January 2014)

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  1. “If you want to be rich, you have to program your mind to be rich”- Jordan Belfort
    It's just one of many quotable quotes from the movie. Glad I've watched it. I recommend this to the young dreamers not letting mediocrity get the best of them.