'Wolf' Is A Blast, If Not Completely Believable

Jan 2, 2014

The American Way? Leo DiCaprio revels in the ill-gotten glitz and glamour of 'The Wolf of Wall Street'
Credit rottentomatoes.com

The Wolf of Wall Street is a welcome return to those old-time movies such as Bette Davis used to recommend, in which all the colors are a little brighter than real life, the Ferraris are spanking new, the women are drop-dead gorgeous, the clothes are the peak of fashion, and everything from the tableware to the picture windows are sparkling clean.

In other words, everything is a little more exciting than real life.

In American Hustle, Jennifer Lawrence represented this world, but in The Wolf of Wall Street, everything is part of it, with the possible exception of Kyle Chandler's FBI man, who is our link to the serious world.

It's basically a true story, from Jordan Belfort's autobiography, but I don't think director Martin Scorsese cares whether you totally believe it as long as you enjoy it. Which you will. At least most of it, which is a lot, at close to three hours.

Leonardo DiCaprio's rise from unemployment to incredible riches and success in the mostly bogus stock market is swift and mostly comical, with Jonah Hill and a cast of excellent character actors swooping miraculously to the top by means that DiCaprio at one point turns to the camera and assures you you aren't expected to be able to follow... to the accompaniment of parties that Jay Gatsby would be proud of, and inadequately clothed women who are all looks and no character, plus goblets of cocaine and quaaludes.

You may miss any deep understanding of anybody-- I kept wondering whether DiCaprio really cared about his fellow workers, or even his wives or children. And you may wonder where the victims of this crook are.

But till his follies begin to catch up to him and The Wolf of Wall Street starts to stumble through a series of false endings, you'll be having a whee of a time.