Movie Review: The Wolf Of Wall Street (2013)

Posted: December 28, 2013 in Drama
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At age 22, Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DeCaprio) gets a plum job with a prestigious brokerage.  He is taught the ropes of being a successful broker by Mark Hanna. (Matthew McConaughey) Hanna’s advice to Jordan, take a lot of drugs, pleasure yourself twice a day and separate your client’s cash from your client.  As soon as Jordan gets his series 7 license, black Monday occurs on October 19th 1987, and Jordan finds himself out of a job.  He works for a while in a small brokerage on Long Island, where he sells penny stocks to unsuspecting clients , making 50% commission.  A friend, Donnie Azoff (Jonah Hill) is so impressed with Jordan’s take home pay that he quits his job to become a broker.  It is then that Jordan starts Stratton Oakmont in an abandoned auto garage.  He staffs Stratton with old friends from the neighborhood, most of them small time drug dealers.  Nicky Koskof (PJ Byrne) nicknamed Rugrat, because of his bad hairpiece, Chester Ming, (Kenneth Choi)  Robbie Feinberg,(Brian Sacca)  and Alden Kupferberg  (Henry Zebrowski)  join Jordan and Donnie at Stratton, and by promising to sell blue chip stocks and really selling lousy penny stocks, Jordan and his cohorts rake in lots of money.

Jordan agrees to speak to Forbes magazine for what he thinks is a puff piece, the Forbes reporter nicknames him the Wolf Of Wall Street.  Not only doesn’t this hurt his reputation, lots of newly minted brokers want to work for Stratton.  Jordan realizes that the next big step for the brokerage is to sell an IPO, initial public offering of a newly formed company.  Donnie is friends with Steve Madden, (Jake Hoffman) woman’s shoe designer who wants to take his company public.  Stratton Oakmont takes the company public, and Jordan puts 85% of Steve Madden stock under his control, which is illegal.  By this time both the SEC and FBI are investigating Stratton Oakmont for shady securities practices.  As Jordan’s professional life deteriorates, his personal life is in similar disarray. Jordan has already divorced his first wife, and is having difficulties with his second wife, Naomi (Margot Robbie) because of Jordan’s predilection for hookers.  Jordan and Donnie also snort massive amounts of cocaine and take Quaaludes to come off the high.  To say the least, these vices mess with Jordan’s judgment, but he still can get out of serious jail time if he pleads guilty to a few minor SEC violations and steps down from Stratton, will he do it?

I like  The Wolf Of Wall Street a great deal. I expected to see Oliver Stone’s Wall Street, and instead I saw a much funnier take on the Wall Street culture, some of it was laugh out loud funny.  Sometimes, I think it was too funny for its own good. Jordan Belfort is  a real person, he did swindle lots o people out of their money, and at times, I felt like the movie treated his transgressions much too lightheartedly.  By the time the movie switches to a more serious tone, the pacing also slows down quite a bit. Martin Scorsese, who directed this movie, didn’t need so much detail in telling the story, and could have done a good bit of editing to help with the pacing.

Because it’s directed by Scorsese, The Wolf of Wall Street reminded me of Goodfellas.  Henry Hill and Jordan Belfort are very similar, they both put on the facade of being pillars of the community, while in reality they craved debauchery. Scorsese is extremely good at showing the dichotomy between the public and private lives of both men.

The acting is good.  Leonardo DeCaprio is very good as a man whose moral compass is broken, and who only cares about fulfilling his hedonistic needs.  DeCaprio turns from good time Charlie to raving lunatic in a flash, and that’s not easy to do, a lesser actor could have blown that role very easily. He also does the New York accent very well.  Margot Robbie does a really good job in a tough role as Belfort’s second wife Naomi, she plays Naomi as a very manipulative woman using sex as a weapon, but and she also stands up for herself when she needs to. She also handles the accent well, even though she’s from Australia.  I cannot for the life of me understand the casting of Jonah Hill in this movie, he plays Donnie Azoff as a complete moron, a goofball looking for his next score of money or drugs.  Hill has never failed to annoy me with his frat boy antics in any movie he’s in.  The streak continues.  I’m similarly puzzled by the casting of Rob Reiner as Jordan’s father.  Reiner plays the role strictly for laughs, which adds to the confused tone of the film.

Overall, a very good film, a bit long, and sometimes confused tonally, but still very good.

The Wolf Of Wall Street.  A great movie, a bit long in the tooth.



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