Fangs Baring: “The Wolf of Wall Street”

By Andrew Bevevino

Sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll. The phrase is old, but Martin Scorsese’s newest epic, “The Wolf of Wall Street,” breathes new life into the words. This tale of a self-built stock market schemer has more drugs than a pharmacy, features a powerful rock soundtrack, and shows enough sex to turn away your grandmother.

Based on a true story, “The Wolf of Wall Street” is a about a crazy-charismatic stock broker named Jordan Belfort and his rise as a money-laundering millionaire. Played by Leonardo DiCaprio, Jordan begins his journey on Wall Street at L.F. Rothschild, a stock firm with a longstanding reputation of excellence.

Under the tutelage of Mark Hanna, played Matthew McConaughey, Belfort is schooled in the real ways of Wall Street. Hanna, a smart, savvy, coke-snorting stock veteran with a taste for vodka martinis, teaches Belfort that drugs are the key to productivity and that being a stock broker isn’t at all about making money for your clients.

The two spend their days getting loaded in more ways than one. Everything seems to be going well for the newbie broker Belfort. That is, until the stock market suffers an unforeseen crash.

After the firm L.F. Rothschild is forced to close, Belfort searches for a new job. He finds relief at a back-alley stock firm called Investor Center. The unkempt, undereducated brokers at this stock shack push penny-stocks that never amount to anything. But Belfort, through lying and misleading, shoves off the stocks for ridiculous prices.

Jordan then meets the quick-witted, crack-smoking furniture salesman Donnie Azoff. Azoff, portrayed by Jonah Hill, agrees to work for Belfort after seeing one of his five-figure pay stubs. The two become partners and, using the Stratton-Oakmont name, build a brokerage jungle that earns them millions.

In terms of performance, DiCaprio was very solid. His ferocious, ruthless mentality made him a good fit for the money-monger Belfort. His role flashed both intensity and intelligence as Belfort manipulated his way to millionaire status.

DiCaprio was the only standout, however. Hill leaned on the comedic performance that he’s put on numerous times. That being said, his sarcastic style was appropriate for the role of Donnie and he provided nice bits of humor. The other supporting performers, among which was the insanely sexy Margot Robbie, were nothing to write home about. The cast was good, not great.

Speaking of sex, there was plenty of it in this raunchy tale. Scorsese didn’t spare the fleshy details in the multitude of sex scenes. Some scenes were even a bit uncomfortable for me. Like the one involving a candle in Leonardo DiCaprio’s butt. One thing’s for sure; if nudity makes you uncomfortable, this movie is not for you.

In addition to the sex was a mind-boggling amount of drug use. Narcotics were the main food group for Belfort and his co-workers.  The massive amount of coke snorting and pill popping resulted in some hysterical drug induced stupors. Jordan Belfort’s lucky he lived to tell the tale of this overdosed drama.

Of course, complimenting both the sex and the drugs was an awesome rock n’ roll soundtrack with tunes from artists like the Foo Fighters. Scorsese was on-point with his music selection, choosing fast-paced, energetic tracks that accentuated the craziness of this film.

Through the nudity and cocaine clouds were bits of artistic brilliance. Though the two were present in excess, the sex and drugs were used to show the materialism and immorality of the characters, illustrating the carelessness and recklessness with which they lived. It may not have seemed like it, but there was a method to Scorsese’s smutty madness.

In vintage Scorsese style, DiCaprio was constantly narrating, even addressing the audience at various points. The dramatic, humorous, and colorful commentary on the movie’s beyond ridiculous events was engaging and entertaining. Showing off his razor-sharp storytelling abilities, Scorsese completes this film with his descriptive approach.

Belfort and his cronies become rich beyond their wildest dreams. They make millions by selling their unregulated stocks to unknowing individuals looking to make a big score. For nearly all of the movie, Belfort and his gang operate without any legal restriction.

Yes, he eventually serves a prison term after he’s nailed by the FBI for money-laundering. But the punishment hardly fits the crime. The white-collar crook is shown playing a leisurely game of tennis while serving his sentence and his commentary indicates that his time in the slammer wasn’t all that bad.

The lack of atonement presents an interesting question; is greed good? Are lying and cheating the best ways to make a fortune. Does morality cripple rather than uphold?

If you ask Jordan Belfort, he won’t tell you that greed is good. He’ll tell you that greed is great. He lived a life of glamor and excess and, in the end, he was paid for the rights to his life-story. A life-story of avarice and atrocity.

Overall, “The Wolf of Wall Street” is an excellent movie. The outrageous elements of the story coupled with the creative prowess of Scorsese make for a highly enjoyable experience. If you’re in the mood for an exciting, dramatic, and crazy tale and you don’t mind a bit of raunchiness, then you should absolutely see this movie.

Out of 5 stars, “The Wolf of Wall Street” gets 4.

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