The Wolf of Wall Street is GoodFellas Lite

Entertainment, Featured — January 7, 2014 at 9:30 pm by

When Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio get together to make a movie, the critics get on their knees and the general public lines up in droves for tickets.   I know that I wanted to see Wolf of Wall Street, the director/acting duo’s latest creation, as soon as humanly possible.  I mean, with The Departed and Gangs of New York under their belts, this latest feature on the excess of the criminal element of Wall Street was a no brainer.  Every critic I read loved the movie, and the previews looked hilarious and ridiculous.  So go, I did.  Ticket in hand, I found a seat and waited to have my movie world rocked.  It didn’t happen.  Don’t get me wrong, The Wolf of Wall Street is a decent flick, but something was missing. The movie left me left me feeling empty (which may be the point) and wanting, maybe for more of a plot or simply for a movie with more bite. Wolf of Wall Street just seemed like GoodFellas without the anti-hero, the anger, the coolness, and the violence.  It was simply GoodFellas Lite.  The way the storyline set up, the narratives, it was all there.  But while Goodfellas left me in awe, The Wolf of Wall Street left me empty.  But all was not lost because this GoodFellas Lite was worth more after I left the theater,  because it made me think about America, its economy, and the nature of its criminals.  But more on that later.

The movie begins with Leonardo Dicaprio’s character, Jordan Belfort, fresh outta school and looking for work on Wall Street.  He quickly finds it and enters the world of douchebaggery and fugazi seamlessly. Matthew McConaughey’s character. Mark Hanna, is his first boss, and on Belfort’s first day Hanna explains the “biz” to young Jordan.  (This is a great scene.) Money, hookers, jerking off, cocaine, and “fuck your client”, are Hanna’s rules for success, and after a few days in the crazed trading room, Belfort is hooked.  But after Black Monday hits, Belfort is out of work.  It is then that he discovers the world of penny stocks, or the pink sheets.  Commissions are 50% on these babies, and Belfort is a master at getting regular folks to throw money at him in order to get rich quick on upstart penny stock companies.  Of course it’s all horseshit,  these stocks are crap, but Belfort is killing it, and with new friend and partner Donnie Azoff (Jonah Hill) he strikes out on his own.  He and Azoff start Stratton Oakmont and begin selling blue chippers to rich folks along with their penny stocks.  Business booms, fraud is rampant, and the debauchery begins.  Whores, drugs, more whores, and more drugs make for some ridiculous scenes and good ol’ fashioned fun.  Coke, booze, and Quaaludes dominate, along with the word fuck, which is dropped a record 506 times in the movie.  (It may say something about me and the people I hang around because I barely noticed the language.)  Of course the problem is that every character is a complete and utter douchebag, and while the hard partying is funny at times, the lack of love for any of the characters make it tedious after a while. The other problem is that the movie is too fucking long.  It runs three hours and for an hour and 45 nothing really happens.  Anyway, you can probably figure out the rest.  Belfort gets super, stinking rich, gets a hotter wife and then some kids, and then fucks it all up.  Of course the government is on his ass because he’s an arch criminal hiding behind a Series 7, and of course he thinks he’s untouchable.  He’s wrong.

But the real power of this movie lies in the analysis of it, not necessarily in the story itself.  Immediately after leaving, all I could think of was GoodFellas and its similarities with Wolf of Wall Street.  Scorsese then had me thinking.  I thought, who’s worse?  The gangsters who live in their own world or the white-collar crooks who steal from the common man and the rich alike and then tank the whole economy when they’re done?  For the most part gangsters leave you alone if you’re not in their world.  The white collar guys cast a much wider net, yet when caught they serve much lighter sentences in soft country club prisons, and when they get out they’re usually still rich. Scorsese makes these guys as dislikeable as possible, and the movie had his desired effect on me.  The more I thought about it, the more I think the Jordan Belfort’s of the world are worse than the Henry Hill’s of the world, and I think this was Scorsese’s point all along, and the reason for his over the top production.

One last thing about Wolf of Wall Street.  Margot Robbie stars as Jordan’s second wife, Naomi Lapaglia.  When he sees her he has to have her, even though he’s already married.  (The scene when she first appears involves Quaaludes and Jonah Hill and it’s hilarious.) She is devastatingly hot.

So check out the Wolf either in the theater or on DVD.  It’s worth a look and if you have half a brain, it’ll get you thinkin’.  Oh, and Margot Robbie is hot.










One Comment

  1. People have been complaining the it is glorifying Belfort’s life. It seems you got it. They are not glorifying but it supposed to leave you feeling dirty and not envious of his shadiness.

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