Did you know that folks at Wall Street can be greedy, hedonistic, and criminals?  If you didn't know that, you've probably been living under a rock for a few decades.  If you did know that, there won't be much new for you in The Wolf of Wall Street, which tells a story so familiar even Martin Scorcese can't add much to it.

Based on the biography of the title character, The Wolf of Wall Street follows Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio), a Wall Street titan of industry and of appetite.  Belfort simply wanted to be rich, and he had the misfortune of getting his broker's license on the day the stock market crashed; this also led to his Manhattan employer going under.  Belfort wound up working from a brokerage in a Long Island strip mall, where he sold penny stocks (cheap stocks for barely-existing companies, sold to lower- and middle-class people) at an amazing rate.
Belfort became so successful he started his own company.  His employees were mostly drug dealers, along with his odd neighbor Donnie Azoff (Jonah Hill), who quit his job to work for Belfort as soon as he heard how much Belfort made in a month.  With Belfort's script and never-take-no-for-an-answer approach, soon Belfort made so much he moved to a Manhattan office, then a bigger Manhattan office.  He also turned work into a circus of excess, with everything from hookers to midget tossing to truly massive amount of drugs.  Belfort also "upgraded" from his wife Teresa (Cristin Miloti) to a hot blonde named Naomi (Margot Robbie).  And there was plenty of insider trading, getting the attention of everyone from the SEC to honest F.B.I. agent Patrick Denham (Kyle Chandler).

The Wolf of Wall Street is surprisingly flat, given its director and star power.  DiCaprio does what he can with the role -- the scene where he motivates his staff to pitch the IPO his company controls is inspiring -- but a lot of the movie is just him talking about how much he spends and how great his life is.  The movie may not endorse greed, but it certainly wallows in showing off the excesses of Wall Street, from conspicuous consumption (Belfort's mansion and yacht) to obscene amounts of sex (this movie has the most female nudity you'll see outside of porn) and drugs, to the reckless partying that killed many of the players and kept the others entertained.  Given the movie's almost three hour running time, a lot of this should have been cut.  The Wolf of Wall Street has its moments -- especially and oddly primal scene where Belfort and Azoff, high on drugs, crawl around and slur-yell at each other -- but we've seen it all before, often done better.

Overall grade: C-
Reviewed by James Lynch

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