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The Wolf of Wall Street is excess to the point of excess lavished with more excess.

I forced myself to watch Martin Scorsese’s new film on Christmas morning at the first showing in theaters. Although it’s been more than a week, my tailbone still hurts after sitting (more like tossing and turning) in my chair for three uncomfortable hours. My first thought while leaving the theater was that there is no justifiable reason or explanation for this movie being so fucking unbearably long.

It’s excessive even for Wall Street.

The Wolf of Wall Street is bold and daring. But the good struggles to breathe and escape so many unnecessary, forgettable moments. The very beginning of the movie shows Leonardo DiCaprio already at the height of his greed and power—throwing a midget at a Velcro target—during an office celebration that resembles more of a bachelor party or frat orgy where the women are props instead of people.

Leonardo Dicaprio in The Wolf Of Wall Street

It doesn’t take long for the first cringeworthy scene (among many) where Leonardo DiCaprio is talking to the camera as if it is an expensive Old Spice commercial. I was somewhat disappointed that the phrase “anything less would be uncivilized” wasn’t uttered. Although these scenes weren’t without entertainment value, everything seemed so hollow and self-indulgent without any point.

Still, Scorsese was able to make the good aspects of the story good with his direction and style, but the bad parts were just unspeakably bad. One specifically hauntingly awful scene has DiCaprio’s character tied up and submissive to a dominatrix that pulls a lit candle out of his ass and then she spills the hot wax on his back. What’s DiCaprio’s “safe” word? Naturally, it’s wolfie. If that description didn’t send douche chills up and down your spine, then you have no shame and you’re likely lacking a respectable soul.

That type of writing should be expected from a teenager.

Many more uncharacteristically cringeworthy scenes await.

Sadly, my favorite scene happens early in the introduction of Jordan Belfort (played by Leonardo DiCaprio) when his character benefits from the knowledge and experience of his boss/mentor Mark Hanna (played by Matthew McConaughey) at a business lunch. How do you survive Wall Street? Forget about survive, you thrive on Wall Street with hookers and blow. And plenty of chest-pounding.

McConaughey

After his Wall Street firm is a casualty from the Black Monday stock market crash, Belfort is forced to reinvent himself, which happens once he stumbles into a company dealing in penny stocks. In a new financial world where commission is king, Belfort rises to the top with his Wall Street experience. The ascension of Jordan Belfort to The Wolf of Wall Street is absolutely the most entertaining portion of this movie. Unfortunately, it feels like the shortest act because it’s the least extravagant.

At this point, the audience is treated a fantastic performance from Jonah Hill as Donnie Azoff. Throughout the movie, Jonah Hill’s character is the straw that stirs the drink. Armed with phosphorescent teeth and horn-rimmed glasses, Donnie Azoff looks like someone threw a mop on top of Mr. Ed’s head and dressed him in Mr. Rogers’ clothes. With only an adequate performance from Leonardo DiCaprio in the lead, The Wolf of Wall Street benefits from surprisingly strong efforts from the supporting cast—especially Ethan Suplee, Jon Bernthal, and Jean Dujardin in addition to Jonah Hill’s outstanding role.

THE WOLF OF WALL STREET

I can’t say the same for Rob Reiner who was unbelievably bad serving as Leonardo DiCaprio’s father. Rob Reiner seemed uncomfortable delivering his lines and it was distracting in every scene. Unfortunately, there are a handful of occasions in which DiCaprio’s character turns to his father for advice—grinding the movie to a halt and ruining any momentum. While several individual pieces work in this movie, many of the issues with The Wolf of Wall Street reside in the meaningless relationships. No emotional investment or minute level of interest exists in Belfort’s relationship with his father, his first marriage, his mistress turned trophy wife, his friendship with Donnie Azoff, or even Belfort’s own sense of self.

Without any stakes, there’s no meaning involved in the proceedings. That’s troublesome when the movie is 3 fucking hours long. The story that Martin Scorsese wanted to tell would have been a stretch given just 2 hours of screen time. As the minutes continue to mercilessly tick away, I was not-so-patiently waiting for the movie to wrap-up as the ship sailed past several permissible endpoints.

Dance

If I consumed as much cocaine or Qualuudes as the characters in this movie, then I would have enjoyed The Wolf of Wall Street considerably more. But with too much unnecessary filler, it’s hard to recall the great scenes with intense clarity even a week later. In fact, my mind morbidly wants to remember the trauma of those truly bad moments. Still, I’ve never seen a better, funnier drug depiction than the Leonardo DiCaprio/Jonah Hill scenes in this movie. Aside from Matthew McConaughey and the later callback to his character, the sober and fucked-up interplay between DiCaprio and Hill are the most worthwhile scenes in The Wolf of Wall Street. I can’t recommend this movie to most people, but there is a large audience that would enjoy The Wolf of Wall Street. One older couple walked out of the theater about halfway through when the subject of dwarf tossing is again mentioned, but that was a pretty tame portion of the absurdist lavishness and debauchery. Any fan of Scorsese should still enjoy his most recent effort, but don’t let yourself be disappointed by having high expectations. This is not going to be a Scorsese classic.

The Wolf of Wall Street celebrates its style by hiding its substance. But damn, it looks good.

Just watch it in the comfort of your own home—not in theaters and definitely not on a plane.

Bad

3.5 out of 5 stars

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Comments
  1. […] Buyers Club: 4.5-star review 12 Years a Slave: 4.5-star review American Hustle: 4-star review The Wolf of Wall Street: 3.5-star review Nebraska: 3.5-star review Captain Phillips: 2.5-star review Gravity: 2.5-star […]

  2. Naz says:

    God you are whiny. Its a great movie, bottom line.

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