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The Best of 2013: 'The Wolf of Wall Street'

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The Wolf of Wall Street (movie)


If there was one word that sometimes can be associated with Martin Scorsese's later works, it is the word: excessive. This is actually not a negative criticism, but a rather fair and dry generalization. It is common knowledge among film lovers that the name Scorsese is synonymous with the depictions of realistic violence, relentless profanity and uncensored immersion into the darkness of humanity. Taking all of this and putting a light and comedic tone to all of it, and you get The Wolf of Wall Street, a film that is all about excessiveness.

Leonardo DiCaprio once again delivers a crazed, hyperactive performance as Jordan Belfort, a real life Wall Street shark of the 1990's. DiCaprio over the last 10 years has made it a mission to play very gray, confused and despicable characters in relation to their personality (for the exception of Inception, and yet that character is still a criminal of sorts) in an effort to completely shed away the image of goodly Jack Dawson in Titanic. Jordan Belfort may not be quite as horrifying as Calvin Candie, his most entertaining and evil character yet from Django Unchained (a Best of 2012 pick of mine), but this man's uncompromising antics of selfishness, greed and opulence somehow translate into fantastic comedic potential. In many ways, The Wolf of Wall Street is a complete farcical satire. And rather refreshingly, Mr. Scorsese has not directed a comedy in more than 30 years since The King of Comedy.

Upon further inspection, the film is cast with mostly comedians and actors with superb comedic timing. Jonah Hill, Rob Reiner, Jean Dujardin, Jon Favreau, Kenneth Choi and Edward Hermann are all names associated with laugh-out-loud, silly malarkey. Balancing them out is a troupe of quick witted, slim customers including Matthew McConaughey in a brief appearance, Joanna Lumley, Jon Bernthal and scene-stealer, head turner Margot Robbie. All of these actors seem to be in on a strange, nearly invisible joke: make every scene as excessively over-the-top as possible in order to perfectly illustrate the perception of drug-addicted snobs. A number of critics have attacked this film for its supposed glorification of drug use and sociopathic behavior. However if focus was concentrated purely on the comedic appeal, it would be impossible to not see this film as anything but ridiculous-- and it seems to overachieve that in every scene (by trying too hard as well to humorous effect). The whole experience is like watching Monty Python on mescaline.

The film may be based on true events, but it is obvious that the only way to enjoy a story about such irresponsible people is to make fun of them. From bombastically-long improvised scenes consisting of mainly insults to uncomfortably truthful sex scenes, fro people with bad toupees and to the most uproarious drugged out skit of DiCaprio struggling to get into a Ferrari, this wolf likes his blow.