Movie Review: 'Wolf of Wall Street' howls too long

For the News-DemocratDecember 23, 2013 

What It's About

For a film about excessive vices, "The Wolf of Wall Street" becomes an assault of over-the-top debauchery. And at three hours, the vulgar behavior becomes repetitive and tiresome.

With his usual slick point of view, director Martin Scorsese looks into the hedonistic greed of the '80s and '90s, where life was one big frat party for amoral financial players. With a pulsating score, lavish locations, zippy editing and a hyper-kinetic ensemble, the film is a swirling, whirling example of an Alpha male's la dolce vita.

It is based on the true tale of New York stockbroker Jordan Belfort (Leonardo diCaprio), a who became ridiculously rich from penny stocks and went on to found a brokerage firm Stratton Oakmont, affording him an affluent lifestyle teeming with women, drugs and conspicuous consumption.

His rise is spectacular, and his fall is Shakespearean -- a grand tale suited for epic storytelling.


In one of his fiercest performances, di Caprio dives into this circus with gusto. Only the guy is a world-class jerk, and there is little to sympathize.

From Rob Reiner as Jordan's dad to Kyle Chandler as a relentless FBI agent, the ensemble is compelling. Matthew McConaughey is seen only briefly as a mentor, and Spike Jonze has an amusing cameo. But there are scads of naked blondes and the objectification of women is rampant.

Jonah Hill is also impressive as Donnie, the shameless sidekick but his dental work is distracting.

What Works

The screenplay has its moments but the profanity is extensive and ultimately intrusive.

What Doesn't Work

Ultimately, the story is just obscene and becomes too much -- and at least 45 minutes should have been shaved off.

2 stars out of 4

Director: Martin Scorsese

Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Matthew McConaughey, Jon Bernthal, Margot Robbie

Length: 2:59

Rated: R for sequences of strong sexual content, graphic nudity, drug use and language throughout, and for some violence

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