Let me start this out by saying that “The Wolf of Wall Street” is not a movie for the faint of heart. Meaning, if you are easily offended by Martin Scorsese-type films, then you will probably hate this one. If the female anatomy offends you or makes you feel uncomfortable, then this movie is not for you. If drug use ranging from cocaine to Quaaludes offends you, then this movie is not for you. If seeing Jonah Hill eat a goldfish offends you, then this movie is not for you. If seeing a man punch his wife in the middle of an argument (twice) offends you, then this movie is not for you. If talk about mentally challenged children, little people, and various things about sex offends you, then this movie is not for you. And lastly, if a film about the dirty deals of money that come from Wall Street businessmen offends you, then this movie is not for you.
Now, if you can look past all of this excess to see the real story Marty Scorsese is trying to tell, and can stomach a little nudity and cocaine use (and by little I mean a lot) then you will probably enjoy the masterpiece that is “The Wolf of Wall Street.” While I sat in the theater for nearly three and a half hours (you read that correctly) and watched Scorsese’s brilliance unfold, I was lucky enough to also be sitting behind a group of about five or six teenage boys. A word of advice, if you want to enjoy a Scorsese masterpiece go to it with a teenage boy. They will only see it for its surface value. The boys in front of me saw the nudity, drugs, and sex and laughed. When they left the theater they thought “The Wolf of Wall Street” was a party movie that sends the message that if you can get rich your life will be one big party and if you get caught then you may or may not have to go to jail for a couple years.
Jordan Belfort would probably like to talk to those teenage boys and tell them that behind the party was a deeper message, which is why in real life when he got out of prison he wrote an autobiography about how shitty his life as a stockbroking drug addict really was. Belfort would want you to know that Scorsese’s movie may have a lot of excess to it, but it tells his true story of how he almost lost everything because of greed. It takes about 2/3 through the movie for the audience to figure out what Marty is doing. The first part is a party, but the second is the sad demise of a nice guy who let greed get the best of him. Jordan Belfort is now a (sober) motivational speaker that wants people to know that greed and excess is a real killer. If you can survive the three and a half hours and some offensive sights then you will be witness to an important lesson.
By now you’re probably wondering what I thought of the movie. Was it offensive? Was it too far? Is it worth seeing? The answer to those three questions is “yes.” First, it is offensive, but you shouldn’t let that stop you from watching. It is, after all, a movie based on a true story. There are always exaggerations (I mean, have you seen “The Blind Side?”), but the world Jordan Belfort lived in was defined by excess. You can’t tell a story about Wall Street without showing the really shitty things idiots on Wall Street do and say. Second, yeah, maybe it did go a little far at times, but isn’t that the point? Didn’t Belfort go so far that he had no where left to go? Didn’t he steal billions of dollars and screw up many people’s lives? Don’t you think he went too far? Of course he did! And a movie like this can’t be truthful and fulfilling without being edgy and persistent in the story-telling. Thirdly, of course it is worth seeing. If you don’t see anything else this award season, at least see “The Wolf of Wall Street.” I mean, don’t bring your kids or your parents, but see it for yourself. Good story-telling combined with a tragic story always makes for a great film. Marty and Leo don’t do anything less than excellent. You won’t regret a trip out to the theater for this one.
If nothing else, it gives you a look into a world that we normal people can’t even begin to understand. It will upset you, but it will also make you think about how money is a terrible evil. Movies that can teach lessons (and do it indirectly) are the type of movies worth seeing no matter how they got the “R” rating. And if you’re in the mood to see the film that will earn Leo his long-awaited Oscar then this one is probably your best bet. I’m always wary of Leo. He’s so good and often times that’s why he is over-looked by the Academy. DiCaprio as Belfort is a game-changer, though. If I could bet on his year, this would be it. And although the Globes over-looked Jonah as Leo’s devious sidekick Donnie for a Supporting Actor nom I’m hoping the Academy doesn’t make the same mistake. This movie will make you hate Jonah Hill’s guts (or at least his character’s). It will make you wonder why Jonah still wastes his time with Seth Rogen movies (just kidding though because I am a huge fan of anything Seth and Evan write). I don’t see why Jonah can’t have an Oscar out of “The Wolf of Wall Street” as well.
Bottom line: go, not because some critic tells you to, but go because this film will make you laugh, cry, and cringe. I’ve never been in a theater that has sounded so many laughs and groans from the same movie. If that’s not good film-making, then I don’t know what is.