I thought I needed to see this movie the other day, Oscars coming up and all. It’s nominated in five different categories, you know: lead actor; supporting actor; adapted screenplay; best director; and the biggie, best picture. Best example of well-acted glamorized pornography, however, was not listed. All other nominees would pale by comparison to this three-hour repetitive, out of control extravaganza of fornication, drug use, really offensive language, and repulsive, obscene situations.
The movie is based on the career of stockbroker Jordan Belfort, so I guess the obscenities, the ridiculous amounts of cocaine and Quaaludes abused in the movie, the total disrespect for the law and middle-class work ethic, and a disregard for people’s feelings were the core of this man’s unconscionable life. His real drug, however, was money, and he must surely be the poster child for what happens when one sells his soul to the Devil.
Now before you label me a prude and a victim of a giant generation gap to not appreciate this movie, I assure you I am not. I am also not an expert on pornography, but but I do know what a movie done in good taste to prove a point looks like, and this wasn’t one of them. I also realize there are all kinds of stories to tell in movies, and we enjoy freedom of speech and all that, but honestly, does this story really enrich our lives? I promise you, there are more pornographic scenes in it than in what is normally labeled pornography. And the drugs? After Belfort is caught he loses his drugs and makes the comment that life without drugs is so boring he wants to kill himself. Do young people really need to hear this? The conspicuous consumption of goods speaks for itself. I was disheartened by their willingness to dupe hard-working people in search of a little extra money and then their mockery of the victim’s trust in them after the deal was sealed. And outsmarting the FBI was just a game to them. DiCaprio and Jonah Hill create truly despicable and unlikable characters; unfortunately they do such a bang-up job of acting they may be rewarded with an Oscar. The Catch-22 is that they really did act well enough to bring these unpleasant characters to life, and in the world of acting, that deserves an award.
I knew this movie set the record for use of the f-word, but that didn’t bother me the way the rest of the movie did, which means, I guess, that the rest of the Catch-22 is that if I have this much of a reaction to the movie, all the people involved will feel vindicated and pat themselves on the back for a job well-done. But the final effect for me was that it made the movie seem less a cautionary tale and more a celebration of that kind of lifestyle.
Jordan Belfort actually appeared in the final scene of the movie, and I can’t help but wonder how much of it was the real deal and how much was Hollywood. As far I as could tell, he really didn’t pay for his excesses. He seemed to remain incorrigible, amoral, and still willing to charm people to do what he wants.
And yes, I did sit through the whole thing. I think it is unfair and uninformed to criticize or censor something without knowledge of the whole issue. And besides, in this case, I wanted to see if this guy finally had to pay for all his excesses, which I am not sure he really did.
Unfortunately, if you choose to make your own evaluation, you will have to sit through the whole thing, too, and the powers that be get to pocket the money. So maybe you could wait till it comes out on Netflix or Redbox and not pay quite so much for the ticket. Be prepared. You have no idea what you are about to see. And put the kids to bed. Especially the teenagers.
Embarrassment is a given.