Wall Street. A land of endless opportunities and quick misfortune. Stocks are being traded left and right for prices ranging from high to low. Slimy and greedy salesmen dial phones all day, in hopes that they can sell you some stock. We’ve taken a glimpse into the life of these salesmen and the type of language that occurs on the floor, but we never really got a good idea of whatever else occurs behind the scenes. We’re told that drugs have a large hand in Wall Street business, but that doesn’t seem too evident from the outside. We hear that there are always women hanging around the offices, but we can never be sure. We do know that corruption occurs within those offices. If you were looking to solidify all three of those thoughts and more, a certain memoir turned film will help you do so.
Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio) entered the world of Wall Street when he was 22 years old. With ambition and determination, he slowly rose under the wing of Mark Hanna (Matthew McConaughey). He had the charm and way with words, but the market crash of 1987 put Jordan out of the job. Finding a job selling penny stocks, Belfort managed to earn 50% commission and slowly scammed his way to riches. When the oddly funny Donnie Azoff (Jonah Hill) quits his job to work for Belfort, the two found the Stratton Oakmont brokerage house and begin to make their own penny stock selling business. As Belfort recruits friends Brad (Jon Bernthal), Chester (Kenneth Choi), and Nicky (P.J. Byrne), he realizes that they don’t possess the skills to sell that he does. So, Belfort concocts a script to aid his salesmen and the results were amazing. So amazing, that Belfort renovated the office and hired more salesmen to join the team. As the company saw its wealth soar, Belfort’s love of money and power grew substantially. Unfortunately for him, this caught the eye of many US Agencies that looked for fraudulent companies.
Rather than lying low, Belfort turned his office into the hottest place in the universe. We’re talking mountains of cocaine and Quaaludes, hookers and strippers each day, and even the occasional Dwarf tossing. You know, the typical office shenanigans. These antics made Stratton Oakmont the go-to place for young investors and the go-to place for the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Agent Patrick Denham (Kyle Chandler) was hot on the trail of the proclaimed “Wolf of Wall Street” and a bribe from Belfort only made his job easier. Despite all the hookers on the side, Belfort also had a wife wife, Teresa (Cristin Milioti), and mistress, Naomi (Margot Robbie), on the side. Eventually, Naomi and Belfort married and she somehow put up with his insane lifestyle. Well, I’m sure the giant yacht and mansion helped a bit. After trying to launder money in Switzerland with Swiss Banker, Jean-Jacques Saurel (Jean Dujardin), Belfort was eventually caught and served 22 months in prison. Now, he’s a motivational speaker and teaches the legal tips to selling.
I know that seemed like a lot of information about the film, but I promise you that’s just the first layer of an even larger story. Five minutes into this movie, I knew that this was the best film of 2013. The Wolf of Wall Street marks the fifth team up of Leonardo DiCaprio and legendary director Martin Scorsese. Their previous work includes The Departed, The Aviator, Shutter Island, and Gangs of New York, and The Wolf of Wall Street easily stands out as their best. This film is non-stop fun and the most entertaining film that you’ll find this year and even the last couple of years. I knew this film was going to be good, but I wasn’t it expecting to be this good.
Leonardo DiCaprio is by far and away the most talented working actor in the business and this film only proves that further. He completely loses himself in this role as a drug and money obsessed pig, who can barely function half the time. DiCaprio always has to get people to forget that he is Leonardo DiCaprio and he does the best job of that here. His sexual antics and drug trips are among the most disturbing and funniest things I’ve ever seen in a film. For three short hours, he carries this film to the finish in spectacular fashion, in what is undoubtedly the best performance I’ve seen all year. He breaks the fourth wall, provides hilarious narration, and does some things that will leave you howling. His talent is unparalleled and this is a side of DiCaprio that we’ve never seen before. You’re going to hate him at times, but also cheer for him at other times. No one should miss this performance, as it is a spectacle that everyone should see by the end of the year (provided that they’re older than 17).
Jonah Hill also really surprises, as he turns in the best performance of his career. It’s odd to think that this hysterical guy is an Oscar nominee (for his supporting roll in Moneyball), but his performance in this film will remind you why. Providing dozens of laughs and crazy sequences, Hill becomes someone else entirely. He sports large “phosphorescent” teeth and an attitude that’s insanely crazy. As DiCaprio’s handpicked supporting lead, Hill takes us to weird places, but shows that he can do more than what his resume suggests. Alongside Hill is Margot Robbie, who also makes a star of herself in this film. She’s quite possibly the most attractive woman in Hollywood and she kills it here! She balances sexy and assertive really well and holds her own against a supremely talented cast. Her character knows very well what her husband does, but she lies low in order to maintain her elegant lifestyle. Even Matthew McConaughey steals the show with his ten minute sequence. His small time in the film alone is worth the price of admission. He’s hilarious and will have you holding your side for the longest time. There is no shortage of greatness from this supporting cast.
The biggest surprise from The Wolf of Wall Street comes with its editing. The film was initially supposed to be released on November 15, but because of its excessive runtime and graphic content, the film was pushed back. While there was talk of the film being pushed back to 2014, Scorsese and editor Thelma Schoonmaker managed to keep the film at a minute under three hours and still full of graphic content. The nearly three-hour runtime may frighten some, but the film goes by in what seems like an hour-and-a-half. I was left at the end asking “there has to be over an hour of footage left, right?” It’s also a wonder how the film earned an R rating and didn’t get slapped with an NC-17 rating instead. There are copious amounts of drugs being consumed all the time and the full frontal nudity and sex is on display for all to see. If you can stomach it all, you’re going to have one hell of a good time.
Writer Terrence Winter did a marvelous job adapting the novel of the same name. That novel’s author, Jordan Belfort, wrote the book like it was a script. I read the novel and was stunned by the detail he put into everything. The greatest and most terrifying thing about this film, is that everything you’ll see actually happened. Belfort was a disgrace to humanity, yet he made reading a book the most fun thing on the planet. There’s never a dull moment in his story and that transfers to the screen really well. Martin Scorsese has done black comedies before, but none have been as funny as this. It’s not crazy to call this film Scorsese’s best work since Goodfellas. What makes this film so damn good and exciting, is the collaborative effort from the team as a whole. Everybody plays a part in making the film the success that it is. Even the set design was stellar! Giant yachts and helicopters and crazy mansions/apartments. Jordan’s story may be revolting, but it makes for the best time you’ll have at the movies.
I could go on and on about why The Wolf of Wall Street is the best film of the year but, I’d rather have you go out and experience it for yourself. I can only tell you that you’ll experience something new and wild and you probably won’t regret it. If you’re adverse to sex, drugs, language, and greed, go watch something for children. This is a movie for anyone looking for a good time and for pure entertainment. Yes, the subject matter is outrageous. Who cares, it’s a movie! If you miss out on this film, I will weep for your soul. I’m already planning on seeing this film a few more times in the coming weeks and I plan as taking as many friends as I can. Everyone (of age) should drop what they’re doing and go see this film. Other than the gift of family and peace on earth, The Wolf of Wall Street is the best Christmas present you could ask for!
The Wolf of Wall Street Trailer