The Wolf of Wall Street (Movie Review)

wolf-of-wall-street-poster02Revered filmmaker Martin Scorsese directs the story of New York stockbroker Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio).  From the American dream to corporate greed, Belfort goes from penny stocks and righteousness to IPOs and a life of corruption in the late 80s. Excess, success, and affluence in his early twenties as founder of the brokerage firm Stratton Oakmont warranted Belfort the title – “The Wolf of Wall Street.”



Leonardo DiCaprio plays Belfort, a man who is seen snorting cocaine off the body of a prostitute in the opening sequence. Those of you planning to take your mom to the movie theater this Christmas might want to skip this film in lieu of something a little more tame.  Belfort’s life is all about fast cars, fast women and making money and Belfort brings the same atmosphere to the office where he gives motivational speeches to his employees in-between midget tossing and office-wide orgies.

In my opinion, the more interesting details are found in the flashbacks about Belfort’s early days. As a broker in training Belfort meets Mark Hanna (Matthew McConaughey). Hanna takes Belfort to lunch to explain that the keys to the business are masturbation and cocaine but soon the market crashes and stockbrokers are near unemployable. Back in Long Island, Belfort learns about the 50 percent commissions on penny stocks.


After an odd encounter with his neighbor Donnie Azoff (Jonah Hill), Belfort has his first employee. Recently on the “Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” Hill accurately described his character as an “unhinged drug addict, maniacal, asshole, Wall Street criminal.”  With Azoff as his wingman, Belfort soon has a team of con men and losers working for him at his own firm, Stratton Oakmont.  FBI agent Patrick Denham (Kyle Chandler) is on to Belfort’s cons and he makes it his personal mission to take down the “Wolf”.

Martin Scorsese’s dark comedy The Wolf of Wall Street is based on the memoirs of Jordan Belfort.  Belfort is a real-life penny stock trader who became a multi-millionaire in his twenties and eventually spent time in prison for securities fraud and other crimes before becoming a motivational speaker.  In The Wolf of Wall Street, Director Scorsese delivers a unique film that contains a blend of styles which varies between action, flashbacks, and actors addressing the camera directly in first person interviews.  Matthew McConaughey’s character is weird and amusing and his time on screen was far too brief. Jonah Hill played Azoff with a convincing blend of humor and awkwardness fitting a character married to his first cousin.  I also enjoyed Rob Reiner as Max Belfort, Jordan’s father.


The Wolf of Wall Street is rated R for sequences of strong sexual content, graphic nudity, drug use and language throughout, and for some violence. Be warned that this has more of the attributes listed than any unrated film I’ve seen. It’s not a family movie – and would probably be uncomfortable for most adult families (aka don’t take Grandma to this one).  Film buffs and Scorsese fans will likely enjoy it.  Leonardo Di Caprio fans will certainly be impressed with his portrayal. I personally enjoyed most of the film, and one scene where Belfort tries to walk, crawl and drive home while on drugs made me laugh out loud (and few things do that).  I expected this to be more like Gatsby, but The Wolf of Wall Street is a different animal altogether.  Be warned, with a run time of 2 hours and 59 minutes not including previews this is a long movie so skip the large soda (and the bathroom break if you can).

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4 Responses to “The Wolf of Wall Street (Movie Review)”

  1. Brian White

    Okay. While I certainly can respect one’s opinions and how they differ, I really don’t see how you justified the score of 3 in your review above? Our grandparents and parents have all grown up with MS films so why would this be any different for them? Nudity and swearing? To me I’m so numb from it in our culture it doesn’t phase me anymore. I mean, I took my parents to see Bad Grandpa. That had some hardcore moments in it. My parents are very conservative and they laughed harder than me. That even had more pen1ses too. Your whole I thought it was going to be more like The Great Gatsby has thrown me off. The Great Gatsby is exaggerated fiction, while Wolf of Wall Street is based on a true story (and I’m not trying to glamorize it at all). That would be like me saying I did not like Pain and Gain because I thought it would be more like Max Payne. Did you not see the trailer? So was the runtime just the main problem for you and that’s the reason for the below average score on this one?

  2. Sean Ferguson

    Actually three stars IS average. I don’t think Jami took stars away because of the nudity and swearing, she was just warning people about it who may not have been expecting it. I haven’t seen this yet so I can’t say how I would’ve rated it but this won’t be the first or the last time that everyone on WSB does not agree on a movie’s quality. Let’s not forget all of the discussions about Captain America and Thor.

  3. Jami Ferguson

    The 3/5 wasn’t for nudity or swearing. Yes most people, myself included are quite accustomed to that. I was pointing out that it was excessive and that you might not want to take grandma or a mature but young teenager that would normally be fine with such things. At my showing there was a child under the age of 10 seated nearby.

    I thought it was a good movie. I think it could have been cut down, it did not need to be three hours. For me a 4/5 movie is something I can’t wait to run out and buy and watch over and over. For this movie once was enough. I think 3/5 is a decent score.

    I was glad it wasn’t like Gatsby. I would have liked a little time shaved off the film. I think it was good. I liked the oddball characters and thought it was very well acted. It wasn’t great. Just my opinion. One viewing was enough for me. I debated between 3 and 3.5 but would not have gone so far as 4 because this is not a film I will own.

    To each his own. I’m glad you liked it so much, Brian.

  4. Gregg

    Holy cow spoiler alert! A little too much given away here as I haven’t seen the movie yet. I appreciate your score though to contrast the other reviews on here that have it higher marks. I always like to hear an intelligent opposing view. I will say I was also thrown off when you thought it would be more like The Great Gatsby. Even the trailers at face value reveal two very different movies.