DM Haight

When we think of Scorsese we like to reminisce about the good old days of Goodfellas, Casino, and maybe even a little Taxi Driver. And while those movies have become synonymous with the prolific director, the newest installation into his portfolio is one Wolf of Wall Street, the story of Jordan Belfort, a formerly bright-eyed and bushy-tailed kid looking to make some cash in the stock exchange who ends up being a multi-millionaire drug addict with everything to lose and not a care in the world.

The player donning the persona of the drug-riddled Belfort is none other than Leonardo DiCaprio, Martin Scorsese’s boy of choice over the last several years. Leo pulls off some of the best comedic work we’ve seen all year, and does so without losing that power and force he’s acquired through other collaborative works with Scorsese, like The Departed and Shutter Island, and of course The Aviator. We can’t forget that Leo is known for his dramatic roles, and watching him act in Wolf a night and day backflip of wit and sarcasm. DiCaprio has yet to be so incredibly vulgar and despicable, and yet exude charm like body odor. His dynamic with Jonah Hill is as unsettling as Hill’s bleach-white teeth and New Jersey accent, like two guys in a bromance, one eternally trying impress the other by guzzling the most beer or stuffing the most drugs (orifices for the second activity are not yet determined).

In fact it is Hill’s work that has left me craving more. I can’t get his crazy white teeth out of my head, nor can I remove that blinding smile from the darkest recesses of my mind. It’s terrifying. When Hill proved he had the versatility to be either dramatic or comedic with Moneyball, I would not have been stunned to see him come in and do something similar with Wolf. But he’s completely different. He’s a non-stop, wave after wave, comedic army all by his lonesome. He’s got every base covered. He’s got slapstick, puns, vulgarity, situational; he couldn’t be better if God slapped him with a funny stick and knocked out six teeth. Then again, after this amazing presentation of Donnie Azoff, it would be hard to believe that he wasn’t slapped in the face with a funny stick. The most incredible moment with Hill’s Azoff comes when Donnie wants to deliver a gift to Jordan as a means of thanks for all the help Mr. Belfort has afforded the stocky lacky. “Smoke crack with me, bro.” After that line hits the entire film falls into a swell of joke of after joke goodness.

The sex, drugs, and money help blitz the film through some of the more rough patches, including a heck of a lot of awkward speeches on a weird non-stage to the brokers at Stratton Oakmont. These enlivening speeches remind us that Belmont is a bit obnoxious, arrogant, maybe even conceited. And we see these scenes over and over again. At a certain point they actually loses their purpose and become as obnoxious as Belmont, himself. Another issue comes from the length of the film. And don’t get me wrong, I have no problem sitting on my rear for three hours. Even if I wasn’t in a theater I’d probably still be sitting on my rump for a similar length of time doing whatever I do. The gripe stems from over-long sequences like Belmont’s car excursion after his experimentation with an exceedingly old, and exceedingly potent Quaalude, where we, for almost twenty minutes, watch as DiCaprio slurs, drools, moans, cries, and drives, all while cross-eyed. No matter how enjoyable the scene may have been, it, and many others like it, help to drag the movie away from the plot, and the sex, and more drugs taken because of issues concerning the main plot and sexy-times.

The Academy has a tough vote to make. But if the stars align, as they sometimes do, then there may be a few surprises, a few hurrahs, and maybe an Oscar with a name of a Wolf of Wall Street alum chiseled into the base.


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