Popcorn Preview: The Wolf of Wall Street

The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)
Cast includes: Leonardo DiCaprio (The Great Gatsby), Jonah Hill (Moneyball), Margot Robbie (About Time), Matthew McConaughey (The Lincoln Lawyer), Kyle Chandler (Zero Dark Thirty), Rob Reiner (All in the Family)
Director: Martin Scorsese (Goodfellas, Hugo)
Genre: Drama | Comedy | Crime | Biography (180 minutes) Based on a book by Jordan Belfort

"The world of investing can be a jungle," says Jordan Belfort. In this jungle, Jordan is king... drugs, hookers, gambling. "You're lower than pond scum!" That's what they told him when he was 22 and got his first job at Rothschild. He was a straight arrow back then... money crazed, yes... mainlining nothing but adrenaline. Mark Hanna recognized star power and took Jordan to lunch on his first day. "The goal is to move money from the client's pocket to yours," says Mark. "And hopefully make money for client, too," says Jordan. "It's not fucking real!" says Mark. The money's only on paper... "They're fucking addicts," Mark explains. While clients move pseudo-money from one stock to another, the only ones getting rich are the brokers, who take home cold hard cash on every transition. Mark has two pieces of advice for Jordan... jerking off regularly and often... and cocaine... it keeps you sharp between the ears.

Jordan's first day as a licensed broker was October 19, 1987... Black Monday. "Wall Street had swallowed me up and shit me out." Wall Street jobs are gone, but surprisingly, there's a tiny ad in the paper for stockbrokers. In a dumpy little strip mall, Jordan finds a little company where they sell penny stocks. "Who buys this shit?" It's true... selling stock for 6¢ a share isn't glamorous, but the commission is 50%. That's all Jordan needs to hear. He turns on the charm and starts hauling in the money. He catches the attention of Donnie Azoff... who quits his job on the spot to come work for Jordan, when he learns how much money can be made. In a local auto body shop, Jordan and Donnie start their own penny stock company, employing their best drug pushers to sell for them. From penny stock, the duo moved on to start a semi-legal brokerage company, Stratton Oakmont. Jordan's selling philosophy, over-the-top life style and total lack of morals helps propel Stratton to the cover of Forbs Magazine. A scathing article, entitled "The Wolf of Wall Street," should have destroyed the company. Instead, it propels Stratton to even greater heights. Never underestimate the power of greed. "One of these days, the chickens are gonna come home to roost," says Jordan's dad.

During the late 80s and 90s, Stratton Oakmont was the country's largest OTC brokerage firm until their excesses brought them down. This isn't the first film inspired by Jordan Belford and his boiler room operation, but it's the first that's biographical. There's a disclaimer about non-accuracy, but it's actually based on Jordan Belfort's book. Although it's obvious these crooks are going to pay a price for their corruption, viewers may not find the price equal to the crimes. In fact many viewers may this film morally offensive... the question is whether or not we are supposed to be offended. One would hope so. While the film has many excellent parts, three hours of wild sex, drugs, vulgar consumption and debauchery is quite exhausting. Leonardo DiCaprio gives a mesmerizing performance though as Jordan Belfort... he is both despicable and charismatic at the same time. Like a rabid football coach at halftime, he demands that his brokers "not hang up the phone until their client either buys or fucking dies!"

3 popped kernels (Scale: 0-4)
Based on actual events, Jordan Belfort takes Wall Street greed to a new low

Popcorn Profile
Rated: R (Language, Nudity, Violence, Sexual Content, Crime, Drugs)
Audience: Young Adults
Gender Style: Macho
Distribution: Mainstream Wide Release
Mood: Neutral
Tempo: Pure Adrenalin Rush
Visual Style: Nicely Varnished Realism (CGI aided)
Nutshell: Wall Street greed
Language: Rude & Crude
Social Significance: Thought Provoking

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