Movie Day: “The Wolf of Wall Street”

December 22nd, 2013 by Jane Heller


Oh, how I wanted to love this. I mean DiCaprio, Scorsese, a dark comedy of excesses in the vein of “Good Fellas.” What’s not to love, right? I wasn’t even worried about the three-hour running time and the Q&A to follow the screening with Jonah Hill.

But then I saw the movie and I staggered out of the theater feeling beat up. Not that there aren’t some genuinely funny moments, but just because you’re telling a story about excess doesn’t mean every scene has to be excessively long and repetitive.

To back up, “Wolf” is based on the book of the same name by one-time New York stockbroker Jordan Belfort (DiCaprio). He wants to make a lot of money. Badly. So badly he’s willing to do anything to get there, including conning unsuspecting plumbers and teachers and middle class folks out of their savings to buy his penny stocks. His life is one big party, filled with orgies, drugs and a complete lack of remorse. I guess it’s that lack of remorse and total balls-to-the-wall candor that we’re supposed to find funny, but I was ultimately numbed by it all.

I kept thinking, OK, we get it. You don’t need to show us one more scene of Leo climbing on top of a blonde with big tits or Leo yelling at the disciples at his company or Leo snorting coke and popping quaaludes. Maybe if somebody had forced Scorsese to edit the movie it wouldn’t feel so bloated, but I did look at my watch numerous times and wonder when Belfort woul finally get handcuffed and thrown in jail, which he ultimately does.

Oh well. Jonah Hill, who plays his devoted second in command, was a delightful guest at the screening. He told us what a thrill it was for him to be cast in the movie and how intimidated he was at first to be in the company of DiCaprio and Scorsese. He was self-effacing yet charming. I only wish the movie had more of those qualities.


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6 Responses to “Movie Day: “The Wolf of Wall Street””

  1. Melissa M. says:

    OMG! I should have just read your review and skipped this one. I totally agree with you that it was just a bit much after awhile. A couple sitting behind me actually walked out after the first hour. I just don’t see how this movie got such good reviews!

  2. Jane Heller says:

    It’s also gotten some terrible reviews, Melissa. Check out David Edelstein’s review in NY Magazine or Richard Corliss in Time. They hated it as much as I did.

  3. BeSmrt says:

    Before I saw the movie I was worried that Scorsese was going to glamorize this scummy guy. But once in the theater I saw that would not be the case. Once I realized that this was a satire or a black comedy I started to like the movie even with its over the top disgustingness. That is what Scorsese wanted us to feel. Like we needed a shower afterword to feel clean again. Eww, what an icky lifestyle and eww what bad taste! No ‘gee I want to be just like this guy’ afterward. No Gordon gekko here. Greed is bad. So I thought it was beautifully done. But the best part was seeing two private school moms that I know walk in and wondering how they digested it in contrast to their pristine lives.

  4. Jane Heller says:

    For me the problem with the movie was its repetitiveness. Scorsese played all the same beats over and over again, and it felt like overkill.

  5. Ruth says:

    I’m late to this party…just saw it last night. Jane, we don’t always agree on movies, but I am totally with you on this one. I turned to Tom at, I don’t know, somewhere in the 2+ hour mark, and said ‘please make it stop.’ It was just too much of everything. I liked the first hour, but shortly after Matthew McConaughey was out of the picture, I just got sick of it all. I thought McConaughey’s short part was definitely one of the highlights of the film. It was just too damn long.

  6. Jane Heller says:

    My sentiments exactly. “Please make it stop.” And to think they had hard time cutting it down from 4 hours to 3!