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ReelTalk Movie Reviews
How To Ruin Christmas
by Betty Jo Tucker

How much do I hate The Wolf of Wall Street? Let me count the ways. Its scenery-chewing acting -- along with practically everything else about the movie -- appears out of control; the same old drugs, sex, and greed are emphasized over and over again; and the numerous porno-like shots push the envelope too far for a mainstream film. Plus, Torquemada from the Spanish Inquisition must have been the one who insisted on a three-hour running time. But the kicker for me is that it ruined our Christmas this year. Regrettably, The Wolf of Wall Street just happened to be the movie our family chose to see on Christmas Day, and we’re still in a deep funk.

Misery loves company, so come along with me for a closer look at filmmaker Martin Scorsese’s latest offering. Let’s go back to the late 1980s/early 90s -- a crucial time in the life of ambitious young stockbroker Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio). With visions of money dancing in his head, Jordan begins his rise from rags to riches by dealing with penny stocks and establishing his own firm -- with the dignified name of Stratton Oakmont. He recruits employees who share his same lack of morals and trains them in how to sell these stocks to gullible buyers. Does it matter if the buyer is not well off financially? Not at all. And you thought Scrooge was a bad guy.

Soon there came to pass a time of incredible financial success for Stratton Oakmont -- for the stockbrokers, that is, whose workdays at the office include using every type of drug imaginable as well as enjoying sex with hookers recruited for the workplace and tossing little people at a large dart board. Jordan, of course, serves as their role model and idol. His private life also becomes consumed with various powerful drugs, illicit sex and relentless greed. You can imagine the impact on the women in Jordan’s life. His first wife (Cristin Milioti) revolts, and his second wife (Margot Robbie) -- the mother of his two children -- gets frightened by his outrageous actions, even toward his best friend (Jonah Hill).

And then, the reckoning. When an FBI agent (Kyle Chandler) enters the picture, things start to unravel. Will Jordan cooperate with the government? Does he feel any remorse for his selfish, illegal behavior? Well, this is NOT an updated version of A Christmas Carol, but that’s the only hint you’ll get from me.   

Because the real Jordan Belfort bilked so many people out of so much money, I should probably feel relieved that we only paid for a few movie tickets to see a film about his dastardly deeds. Still, at the very least I expected an entertaining movie -- especially from one of my favorite directors and a great actor like DiCaprio. Sadly, they both gave me lumps of coal this Christmas.  

(Released by Paramount Pictures and rated “R” for sequences of strong sexual content, graphic nudity, drug use and profanity throughout, and some violence.) 

For more information about this film, go to the Internet Movie Data Base or Rotten Tomatoes website.

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