Some careers within the acting community are based on type casting. It’s a simple fact. Sometimes casting agencies need a blond-haired, blue eyed girl to bump into the film’s star. Sometimes, for certain actors, this becomes a reoccurring theme because somehow you fit this mold so well that everyone wants you to do it for them. Very few actors get the chance to really portray multiple characters. Tom Hanks and Johnny Depp are probably two of the most recognized actors that can be just about anyone they want, they do it, and then blow everyone away with their ability. If Leonardo DiCaprio does not also come to mind when trying to imagine an actor with a staggering range and ability to portray different characters, he surely should be. While he continues to suffer from the Oscar curse, surely his role in The Wolf of Wall Street will give him another chance.
It baffles me that this man has never received an Academy Award with his resume. Films like Blood Diamond and The Aviator are homes to true masters of their trade, and after seeing DiCaprio in this film, I can’t imagine anyone else performing his role.
In his new film, DiCaprio plays the part of Jordan Belfort whom in the 80’s seemingly subdued Wall Street and corporate stock marketing tactics to his will. Advertised as somewhat of a black comedy, the film displays more of a fun side to the money business and less tedious number crunching that most would expect from a film regarding Wall Street.
The Wolf of Wall Street itself is highly character driven. Each character more of a power hungry, vice hoarding, luxury reveling degenerate than the last. To put it plain and simple, they are bat crazy, drug induced, and party loving lunatics that do whatever they want. A majority of the film revolves around the explicit drug use, hooker indulging, and good times the real Jordan Belfort claims to have experienced within his career. The plot is driven highly by DiCaprio’s character’s desire to succeed. He is ferocious and intense in much of the movie, reminding me of a young, blond Daniel Day Lewis. While ambitious, he also deals with corruption, corporate banking, and government watchdogs which succeeds in bringing it all together. This film is a flashbang to modern drama, like a cantankerous, Yosemite Sam thrown into a room holding dynamite on top of a big pile of money. Get the picture?
In their fifth collaboration together, Martin Scorsese does a truly perfect job of collecting a cast, and DiCaprio is not the only excellence within this film. Joined by well-knowns such as Matthew McConaughey, Rob Reiner, and Jon Bernthal, each character is crazier than the last. Jon Bernthal, most will remember from The Walking Dead fame, plays Belfort’s greasy, money laundering packhorse and reminds me of a twisted, testosterone-stuffed Uncle Rico from Napolean Dynamite. McConaughey is perfect and floats lazily early on the film as Belfort’s mentor who appears to me like a smoke signaling, kamikaze broker riding a cocaine unicorn. He is smarmy and whispy, everything you would expect from a salesman, but his involvement is short and somewhat underutilized in my opinion. Even more unexpectedly for me was Jonah Hill who dons what have to be fake teeth and a skeezy New York accent for the entirety of his role. While Hill has found a home in many a comedic drop, the touch of seriousness within the writing found was surreptitiously surprising. His capable acting chops and his comedic style join well with the “fratboyesque” humor that succeeds in giving the audience the sore cheeks many will love to hate. Be prepared for lots of dick jokes.
Understandably, many people might go into The Wolf of Wall Street expecting some highly drawn out, Wall Street bullshit, but you will be disappointed if that’s what you want. This film is truly electrifying, and as you watch the movie, I challenge you to not imagine yourself in Belfort’s shoes. This film is made up of all the things you could never even dream of. It’s an explosion. These are the dreams you’ll wake up from and struggle to remember, but know they were good. If that’s not what you’re into, you can always go back to petting your cat and watching reruns of Home Improvement afterwards. Merry Christmas!
I give The Wolf of Wall Street 5 “expired quaaludes” out of 5.
by Jason Burleson