Two stars. Rating: R, for strong sexual content, graphic nudity, pervasive profanity and drug use, and some violence
By Derrick Bang • Originally published in The Davis Enterprise, 12.31.13
Boobs, blow and bad language.
That’s my takeaway, from the 180 minutes I wasted — nay, endured — while watching The Wolf of Wall Street.
Root-canal surgery would have been less painful.
Director Martin Scorsese and star Leonardo DiCaprio have made beautiful music on numerous occasions, but this symphony of wretched excess plays more like a botched rehearsal.
There isn’t more than 20 minutes’ worth of actual narrative in Terence Winter’s sloppy excuse for a screenplay. Indeed, this plays like the parody sketch Saturday Night Live might have made of a much better movie ... or, perhaps, the Mad Magazine take on far superior material.
Great, expansive chunks of this bewildering project could have come from the improvisational, goof-laden antics of a Seth Rogen/Judd Apatow farce. Pointless exchanges of inane, profanity-laden, frat boy “dialogue” go on and on and on and on. Our stars seem to make stuff up from one scene to the next, pretending that frenzied hysteria is some reasonable substitute for actual acting, with Scorsese apparently content to let the camera roll.
That sort of babbling slapstick nonsense wears thin very quickly ... and yet it continues for what seems an eternity.
I want those three hours of my life back.
Winter’s script is adapted from Jordan Belfort’s 2007 “memoir” of the same title, a book that can be called laughably unreliable at best, perniciously self-aggrandizing at worst. Belfort was yet another opportunistic Wall Street swindler who made the most of the high-flying 1990s, largely by defrauding investors with penny stocks via the “prestigious” brokerage firm front of Stratton Oakmont.
He was indicted for securities fraud and money laundering in 1998, investors having lost somewhere north of $200 million. Belfort served just shy of two years in federal prison, then re-invented himself as a “motivational speaker” and wrote the aforementioned book — and a sequel, Catching the Wolf of Wall Street — mostly to revel in the notoriously bad behavior he and his colleagues enjoyed while fleecing the unwary.
Actually, he’s the perfect egotistical show-off for the share-all Facebook generation.