DVD review: 'The Wolf of Wall Street' an excessive movie about excess

Akron Beacon JournalMarch 24, 2014 


    These DVDs were released this week:

    Films: The Great Beauty (Criterion Collection, Oscar winner for best foreign language film); Delivery Man; The Past; Odd Thomas (based on best-selling Dean Koontz novel); Geography Club; Welcome to the Jungle (Jean-Claude Van Damme comedy); Home (NAACP Image Awards nominee); The Punk Singer (documentary on riot grrl/activist Kathleen Hanna); The Truth About Emanuel; Angels in Stardust; The Appearing; Boardwalk (1979); The Freshman (1925, Harold Lloyd silent comedy classic, Criterion Collection); Persona (1966, by Ingmar Bergman, Criterion Collection); The Bigamist (1953); The Swimmer (1968, starring Burt Lancaster); The Conspiracy; Gordon Family Tree; Chinese Zodiac; The Best of Bogart Blu-ray Collection; Avengers Confidential: Black Widow and Punisher (animated); Monster High: Frights, Camera, Action (animated).

    TV series: Veep: Second Season; Californication: Sixth Season; Little House on the Prairie: Season One (deluxe remastered edition includes pilot); Continuum: Season Two; Here's Lucy: The Complete Series (1968-74); Mapp & Lucia: The Complete Collection (1985-1986, British comedy on PBS); Dragons: Defenders of Berk Part 1; William & Mary: The Complete Collection (six-disc set of British drama-comedy); Tickety Toc: Spring Chicks Time; Alpha And Omega 3: The Great Wolf Games.


The Wolf of Wall Street made more than $116 million at the U.S. box office — and twice that overseas — even with a running time of three hours.

It received Oscar nominations bud didn't win any. It remains a deeply flawed film, and the reasons should be evident this week when it arrives on disc ($29.98 DVD, $39.99 Blu-ray/DVD/digital combo).

DiCaprio stars as the avaricious Belfort, building a huge fortune on the backs of investors unaware that the stocks peddled by Belfort and his associates are trash — and that their investment will buy the scammers mansions, yachts and custom cars, not to mention quantities of drugs and sexual excess beyond ordinary imagination.

The movie is a companion of sorts to Scorsese's Goodfellas, with DiCaprio filling the amoral, greedy shoes of Ray Liotta. DiCaprio's Belfort is clearly a criminal among criminals, a character we don't admire but nonetheless find fascinating. It also deliberately echoes Oliver Stone's Wall Street, even having Belfort deliver a speech similar to the "greed is good" monologue in Stone's movie.

But The Wolf of Wall Street seems to want us to admire Belfort in some sneaky way.

Sure, we see Belfort nose-deep in drugs, at risk to his own life. Sure, we see that even when prison looms, he loves his game and success too much to walk quietly away. But DiCaprio makes Belfort a charismatic, spellbinding figure, someone who can lead almost anyone into the least ethical circumstances with the promise of gain and the chance to be just like him.

The Wolf of Wall Street is at times painfully overlong, seemingly convinced that there's one viewer in the back row who has not yet gotten the point. I have to stop short of calling it a terrible film — but I can assure you that it is a terribly unsatisfying one.

The DVD and Blu-ray contain only one extra: a making-of piece.

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