At the Movies with Alan Gekko: The Wolf of Wall Street

At the Movies with Alan Gekko: The Wolf of Wall Street

MPAA Rating: R/ Genre: Biographical Black Comedy Crime/ Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie, Kyle Chandler, Rob Reiner, Jon Bernthal, Matthew McConaughey, Jon Favreau, Jean Dujardin, Joanna Lumley, Cristin Milioti, Aya Cash, Christine Ebersole, Shea Whigham, Stephanie Kurtzuba, P. J. Byrne, Kenneth Choi, Brian Sacca, Henry Zebrowski, Ethan Suplee, Jake Hoffman, Mackenzie Meehan, Bo Dietl/ Runtime: 179 minutes

I feel that you should know going in that Jordan Belfort aka the main character in celebrated icon of cinema Martin Scorsese’s epic dark comedy crime saga The Wolf of Wall Street, could honestly care less when it comes to the average movie goer that chooses to watch his story unfold either on TV, DVD, or Blu-Ray. The best proof of this that I guess I can give you is the fact that Belfort routinely throughout the film finds quite a few moments to really attempt to talk directly to the audience and try to help them comprehend the nature of the equally as complex as they are shady business transactions in the world of finance that he has been a part of, and that which have made him more wealthy than we could ever imagine, only to routinely abandon these attempts and then condescendingly communicate to all of using the one vernacular we all know: money. A feat that proves to be quite successful because not only does Jordan have quite a bit to throw around, but it also becomes quite unsettlingly amusing to just observe this man-child spend like a sailor on leave his fortunes on substances, prostitution, and a wide variety of other forms of depravity known to man.

I guess by now I should be honest with you movie goers: Jordan Belfort is a complete and total egotistical and hypocritical a-hole. His hypocrisy of course comes in the form of the fact that even though he makes claims about the value of the American Dream as well as only conning the top 1% of the country through his dealings, the truth of the matter is that he is just as craving of both moolah and the power and influence that people think it buys as anyone else if not worse. Thus I think it is safe to say that due to the protagonist being such a unforgivable sleaze, this movie would have sunk faster than the Titanic had it made any attempt for this scumbag to be even remotely sympathetic in any way. Thankfully celebrated film icon Martin Scorsese is intelligent enough to know that’s not the road to go down with this. Rather within this narrative Scorsese managed to see this as a film comprised of madness, absurdity, debauchery, and yet extremely entertaining. Suffice it to say that with the help of an engaging cast in front of the camera and a talented crew behind the camera pulling off all the stops, he is able to bring all of the above and much more to the silver screen.

The plot is as follows: The Wolf of Wall Street tells the epic tale of Jordan’s climb from his first day on the Street all the way to becoming one of the key players in the financial industry. Indeed by coming equipped with an extraordinary talent for sales, an insanely idiotic yet devoted group of family and friends backing him up, and a highly unethical business plan that enables him and his staff to acquire unnaturally giant commissions on stocks of a worthless nature, this arrogant man-child manages to make piles upon piles of money during the 90’s thus allowing him and his associates to enjoy lives of insane and excessive luxury. Of course while this soon runs the risk of being compromised when the Feds begin to smell a rat, and start trying to find a way to bring this whole empire a’tumbling down, but Jordan and his team aren’t about to go down in a blaze of glory without at least trying to fight things first……

Now for over the past 10+ years, much like DeNiro was in the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s for him, Leo DiCaprio has found himself becoming Marty Scorsese’s main actor, with only Hugo, The Irishman, and Silence being the exceptions to this rule, and their partnership has resulted in some truly wonderful movies. With that being said however, I definitely feel that The Wolf of Wall Street is another shining jewel in that crown and a lot of that can be attributed to Leo’s turn here. Indeed as revolting and lecherous as Jordan may truly become to audiences by the time the film is done, in the world he lives and thrives in he is capable of conning his way to the elite by, on the surface at least, being seemingly likable yet also alluring and strong which Leo manages to showcase quite flawlessly while in the process letting loose a degree of manic energy that audiences have never before witnessed from the celebrated thespian. Indeed even in the moments where Jordan is communicating right to the audience on the other side of the camera, it is understandable if you don’t remember that Leo is acting because of how hypnotic his turn truly is. Of course all this also manages to do is disintegrate
one of the key borders that exist between those who make the movie, and those who watch the finished product. As such, this just simply makes it all the more out there when we see Leo engaged in such acts as snorting substances out of certain areas on women of a certain career persuasion while simultaneously making it quite clear to the audience just how much he adores those substances with a thriving passion.

Yet even though Leo’s turn in this is worth watching this all by itself, I definitely feel that this film’s supporting cast is just as worthy of praise due to how terrific their performances are as well. Indeed suffice it to say that as our main sleazebag makes his way to the top, he finds himself coming into contact with a wide assortment of people who manage to leave a lasting impression both on this genuinely arrogant man-child as well as this film’s target audience. Yet even though Matthew McConaughey, Margot Robbie, and Rob Reiner all prove to be standouts in the ensemble of stark raving insanity that this film brings so vividly to life, I definitely think that out of the whole supporting cast that if there was a single actor who gets even remotely close to swiping the spotlight out from under Leo it would have to be Jonah Hill. Indeed right from the first moment he appears on screen, Hill is gifted an absolute gem of a character to work with due to not only rocking some weirdly perfectly white dentures, but also a personal history that includes the fact that he is married to his cousin. Yet even with those attributes in play, Hill manages to invest 110% in this character, and in the process gives one of the most delightfully loony turns in a movie from the year 2013.

Now as challenging to sit through as this motion picture’s one minute shy of three hours truly can be for some viewers, props must be passed out to Scorsese and his creative team for the absolutely intelligent way they chose to cut this film. Indeed this is a film which has an opening consisting of, in no particular order, the hurling of a midget at a giant dart board, the snorting of cocaine through a hundred dollar bill, and Belfort showing why flying a helicopter while on drugs doesn’t work at all, and remarkably this movie manages to up the ante of insanity at almost every turn and managing to hold on the target audience every single step of the way. Indeed while there are occasional low points due to the film needing a moment to breath every now and then, but after those are done the film is able to find where it left off. Indeed it is quite the testament to the skill of a filmmaker like Scorsese when he is able to make a movie that is this long yet even when that first end credit pops up you find yourself struck with this overwhelming desire to just watch the whole thing again from the beginning.

All in all when one decides to sit down and watch The Wolf of Wall Street, you would not be alone if you let people know that this film, in some way, reminds you of that little known gangster film GoodFellas. That is because both of these films not only manage to showcase a truly epic in length and scope narrative that at their core tells us about a person’s odyssey to achieve that distinctly American concept known as “The American Dream” as well as just how hurriedly and how effectively that dream can be tainted by some of the worst vices known to man, but it also certainly doesn’t hurt that both films are also captivating and extremely intelligent in equal measure. Indeed even though Martin Scorsese is now over 70+ years old, I honestly feel that as long as he can continue to put out movies on the level of this or The Irishman we most assuredly won’t want this legend of cinema to go anywhere anytime soon. On a scale of 1-5 I give The Wolf of Wall Street a solid 4 out of 5.