Let me use a few words to describe Martin Scorsese’s “The Wolf of Wall Street”: avarice, debauchery, excess, drug-fueled, sex-craved, over-the-top, and too long; but in the end run ─ it’s a blast. Leonardo DiCaprio puts in one of his best performances to date playing Jordan Belfort, a penny-stock trader that brought instant credibility to a segment of the market that was considered laughable by the blue-chippers during the 1990s.
Ambitious, young Jordan Belfort is determined to make his mark on life by making the big bucks. He gets his first job on Wall Street, where his boss promptly tells him is nothing but “pond scum”: the lowest of the low. A veteran stockbroker played by Matthew McConughey takes Belfort under his wing and soon teaches him how to use martinis and cocaine as tools of the trade. (The five minute lunch they have is one of the highlights of the movie.) The firm hits the skids and then dissolves during the infamous “Black Monday” stock crash of 1987, leaving everyone without jobs, but Belfort soon becomes acquainted with penny stocks. He learns that he can make 50% commissions on sales from the penny stocks while working for a low-level stock agency, and soon breaks off on his own. Belfort hires several loser friends, including Donnie Azoff (Jonah Hill) who sports pearlescent white Chiclet gum-shaped teeth and becomes his right hand man. Using Belfort’s sales techniques the people in the office are soon making millions using questionable methods, but who cares ─ everyone is becoming rich.
As in most cases where big money strikes fast, the philandering lifestyle follows. Belfort blows off his wife (Christina Milioti) and replaces her with a striking blond bombshell (Margot Robbie); buys a multi-million dollar house on the beach; purchases a yacht and a Lamborghini; and develops a nasty drug habit. All of the excesses which Belfort and his buddies are indulging in soon attract the attention of FBI agent Patrick Denham (Kyle Chandler of “Friday Nights”) who is convinced that some type of money laundering or illegal activity is taking place and the chase is on.
This movie features DiCaprio at his best, but is filled with foul-mouthed language, sex scenes, and heavy drug use, right from the get go. I noticed several groups of people getting up in the middle of the movie and leaving (this is not a family movie). The dialogue and humor used is laugh out loud stuff and intensely vulgar, so be prepared for what you are about to indulge in. My only qualm with the movie is that I think that the movie is about half hour too long. Less time should have been spent on the indulgences (we get the point), and more on the story line. That being said, this is a top-notch piece of work which will be nominated for many Academy Awards. DiCaprio should be a lock for best actor nomination. See it; but don’t bring the kids. (Rated R; 149 min.)
MyRating: 4 of 5 Penny Stocks.