Eyebrows were raised when Martin Scorsese’s real-life drama was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture, Musical Or Comedy. Although the soundtrack (including covers of Goldfinger and Mrs Robinson) is excellent, and it is Scorsese’s funniest film by some distance, Wolf is neither musical nor comedy, more a riotously dayglo Goodfellas.
Beginning in a whir of crashing helicopters and tossed dwarves, it’s a filthy, fizzy ride following the spectacular rise and predictable fall of 1980s stock market fraudster Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio). But between the cameos (Matthew McConaughey, Joanna Lumley, Spike Jonze), globetrotting (London, Las Vegas, Auckland) and endless debauchery, there’s a scabrous joie de vivre that’s impossible to resist. One scene sees Belfort vividly miming anal sex while closing a sale with a clueless client. Another has him and his colleagues enjoying themselves on a coke-and-hooker-filled private jet. Multiply that by 180 minutes and you have some idea what you’re getting into.
Though brilliantly written (by Boardwalk Empire‘s Terence Winter), acted and directed, Wolf is dangerously overlong. This is especially galling because Belfort often speaks directly to the audience to speed the action on. Couldn’t he have whizzed us through the details of his downfall the same way? The only excuse is that the material is just too juicy to cut, and everyone, from a career-best DiCaprio, to his crack-smoking sidekick Jonah Hill, to Scorsese himself is having too good a time to stop. For at least two of the three hours, you will be too. Maybe those Golden Globe guys were on to something after all.
‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ movie times