"The Wolf of Wall Street", the fifth collaboration between Martin Scorcese and Leonardo DiCaprio, is a long movie. One minute short of three hours, it is longer than any of the Middle-Earth lot, including this year's lengthy "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug". Yet, whereas other movies feel long or stretched, "The Wolf of Wall Street" is entertaining from the first scene up until the last.
"Wolf" is an adaptation of Jordan Belfort's 2007 non-fiction novel of the same name. Jordan Belfort of course being the man who, in the 1990s, swindled unassuming every-men into buying crap stocks to make himself, and his group of suit-wearing cronies, insanely rich. Soon to follow were drugs, prostitutes, thousand-dollar lunches, and the kind of debauchery that sort of decadence and corruption can allow.
The film is not short on the depictions of such material, and helps you to enter a world where outrageous parties and office dwarf-tossing competitions are the norm. In the middle of the showering confetti (and Quaaludes) is Mr. Belfort, who is excellently played by Leonardo di Caprio with equal parts financial hunger and moral-compass denial. By his side is his over-consuming, perma-high friend Donnie Azoff, portrayed by Jonah Hill. Like "Moneyball", "Wolf" is a great opportunity for Hill to show his strength as a dramatic actor (even though he has comedic scenes in the film as well), and he does well to impress.
The list of fabulous performances goes on, (Rob Reiner, Kyle Chandler, and Jon Favreau for example), but two stand-out performances are from the women in the film: Cristin Milioti as Teresa and Margot Robbie as Naomi, Jordan's two wives. While Jordan's cohort of green-fiends are there for the fun, both Milioti and Robbie depict scenes of how unregulated greed and consumption can affect a family. Out of all the people on Jordan's side, they are the ones asking if he is going too far, and even bring out Jordan's uglier side. In a movie that many profess to "glorify" greed, these scenes and dialogues are a most welcome addition.
With rumors that the original cut was three and a half to four hours long, it makes one wonder just what was left on the cutting room floor, but also asks the question if the movie could have been cut down even more. Some of the scenes, for those not completely invested, could seem too go on just a little too long. But these are few and far between, and don't really detract from the story. Perhaps the amount of scenes, and the length of them, represent the exhaustive nature of that kind of life, and the never-ending, ever-undulating ride that the pursuit of material wealth is.
Jordan and his friends might just be the worst people you seen on screen this year (they broke the record for the most uses of the "f" word in a movie), but that doesn't mean they, and their stories, aren't entertaining as hell.