Review: The Wolf of Wall Street
The Wolf of Wall Street is another film that has been nominated for an Oscar. It has many nominations in different categories, but most notably, Best Picture. With that having been said, I of course will review it as I have been reviewing any film that is up for Best Picture. The Wolf of Wall Street is also another film that is based off of something that had actually happened, now I do not know how much of this indeed happened as I am sure in the film they made things a bit more exciting for us as an audience to truly enjoy it. However, the main character Jordan Belfort is indeed a real person and after he carried out his prison sentence he wrote about his life in memoirs which became a book named, The Wolf of Wall Street. Belfort's exploits have been used by Hollywood before even this film, Boiler Room was another film created on the basis of Belfort's career.
The plot obviously follows Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio) who starts off at a low-level job at an established Wall Street firm where he works as a stockbroker. His boss, Mark Hanna (Matthew McConaughey) advises him that he will want to adopt a new lifestyle of casual sex and heavy drug use in order to succeed in the business. However, shortly after passing his exam to become a certified stockbroker, he loses his job due to his firm going bankrupt as a result of Black Monday. He went from a comfortable lifestyle to one where he was a stockbroker in an economy that did not want stockbrokers. He eventually finds a position with a Long Island boiler room dealing in penny stocks, which are ignored by regulators. After making a small fortune thanks to the commission he gets from the penny stocks on top of his aggressive pitching style, he meets Donnie Azoff (Jonah Hill), who he befriends and goes into business with. To facilitate this, his accountant parents are recruited as well as Jordan's friends some of whom are experienced drug dealers. The basic method of Belfort's firm is a simple pump and dump scam in which he would sell higher market stocks to big time clients and then dump the smaller market penny stocks on them to make a lot of money. To better cloak his scheme, he gives his firm a better overall look making them seem legitimate by naming them Stratton Oakmont. An article in Forbes dubs Belfort the "Wolf of Wall Street", and soon hundreds of ambitious of young financiers flock to his company. This sends up red flags at the FBI forcing them to look into Jordan Belfort and his company.
Martin Scorsese directs this film and with him behind the camera you automatically know that it will look fantastic. I have yet to watch a film of his and not come out of it enjoying what I had just seen. This film would probably rank as his funniest movie to date with it's endless wit and tremendous chemistry between DiCaprio and Jonah Hill. You could tell that the two of them must have had a great time on set as their friendship came through on camera. Leonardo Dicaprio did a fantastic job in the role of Jordan Belfort. He commanded every scene with confidence and continues to prove why he is one of the best actors of our generation. It is a bit surprising to see that he still does not have an Oscar on his impressive resume, but that will surely change in the future. Jonah Hill for sure gave his best performance to date as Donnie, the drug addicted sexual fiend. There were multiple times in the film that I completely forgot that he was indeed Jonah Hill as I saw the character more then his actual self. However, his penchant for comedic timing worked perfectly with the tone that Scorsese set for the film but also with DiCaprio's character. This film did have some very funny and memorable scenes, none other then one in particular where a character takes a drug that he does not know how it will affect him.
This film however does have it's own set of flaws. For one the run time of three hours is a bit hefty for a film that should have only run for two hours to two and a half hours. There were multiple scenes that looking back on were ten minutes too long and if they were cut down then the movie would have moved along at a better pace. The other issue, which I know is by design, is that these characters can be so unlikable especially by the end of the movie that you just do not care about the consequences that come their way. All of these issues cut the film down a bit for me, but aside from that it is still wildly entertaining and good for a few laughs. Martin Scorsese is still one of the best directors in Hollywood and it is sad to know that he will retire from the business soon, but refreshing to see that he did create his funniest film yet. Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill both give tremendous performances but the bloated running time and sleazy characters bring it down from being a truly great film.