×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Does ‘Wolf of Wall Street’ Glorify Criminals? Yes.

It's three hours of cash, drugs and hookers -- without real consequences.

With the debate raging about whether Martin Scorsese’s “The Wolf of Wall Street” celebrates the excesses it portrays or makes a moral case against them, Variety’s Whitney Friedlander and David S. Cohen square off over the picture. Read David Cohen’s opinion here. Below is Whitney Friedlander’s take. It should be obvious, but THIS POST CONTAINS SPOILERS.

Of all the New Year’s Eve events I’ve been invited to, the one I fear will be the most raucous is my co-worker’s house party. How much trouble could a bunch of twentysomething lads get into while pregaming in West L.A. before heading out to the Rose Bowl?

Did I mention it’s a “Wolf of Wall Street”-themed party?

And this is the problem with Martin Scorsese’s latest film: No matter how much he or star Leonardo DiCaprio claim to not condone Jordan Belfort’s stories of 1980s greed and excess, the movie is still three hours of cash, drugs, hookers, repeat. The lead character cons both rich and poor, ingests copious amounts of cocaine and Quaaludes, endangers the lives and welfare of everyone he knows and essentially rapes his wife. For the “Entourage” generation, it’s a celebration of this lifestyle that tells them you can either have this for a short while before you get busted (something that’s mostly glossed over in the film) or you can forever be a rundown sadsack riding the subway and only glimpsing the good life, like Kyle Chandler’s FBI agent Patrick Denham.

It’s not like antiheroes or glamorously decadent lifestyles are anything new. Forget “Great Gatsby”-themed parties; I’ve heard of “Gatsby”-themed weddings. And Daisy Buchanan’s shiny flapper dresses and headbands still inspire Fashion Week collections (and my wardrobe). Christopher Moltisanti was my favorite “Sopranos” character. This year, I appreciated the elaborate cons and costumes of “American Hustle,” and I would love to hear a compelling argument as to why “Breaking Bad” was not the best show on television.

But the difference is that all of those characters were seen facing serious consequences, even if they didn’t actually handle them well, and they suffered because of their actions. Belfort may have served his time, but — as the movie shows — he then traveled the world to teach his strategies to others who looked up to him and wanted to emulate him. Oh, and he’s also shopping his own reality TV show.

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • The Laundromat Netflix

    Court Refuses to Block Netflix Release of 'The Laundromat'

    A judge has refused to block the release of “The Laundromat,” the Netflix film that is based on the Panama Papers scandal. Jurgen Mossack and Ramon Fonseca — the attorneys at the center of the scandal — filed suit in federal court in Connecticut on Tuesday, claiming they were defamed by the film. The attorneys [...]

  • The Captain

    Film Review: ‘The Captain’

    Tense and exciting when it finally gets airborne, Chinese disaster movie “The Captain” is an effective tribute to those who saved the day when the cockpit window of a Sichuan Airlines flight shattered over the Tibetan Plateau on May 14, 2018. Capably assembled by Hong Kong director Andrew Lau (the “Infernal Affairs” trilogy), “The Captain” [...]

  • Fall Out Boy - Patrick StumpLeeds

    Fall Out Boy's Patrick Stump to Release 'Spell' Soundtrack, Hear First Single Here

    Fall Out Boy frontman Patrick Stump continues his extensive work in the film/TV soundtrack realm with the release of “Spell,” which comes on Nov. 1 on Milan Records through Sony Music Masterworks. The soundtrack features Stump’s music from Crush Pictures’ psych-thriller, including the ballad “Deep Blue Love.” a soulful, blues-tinged ballad performed by Stump and [...]

  • Tell Me Who I Am

    Film Review: 'Tell Me Who I Am'

    Amnesia has been so overused in movies — a convenient narrative device that effectively forces characters to become detectives into their own past — that it’s startling to encounter a film in which someone really does lose his memory. What’s doubly fascinating about the true-life case of Alex Lewis, in which the surprises just keep on coming, [...]

  • Cyrano, My Love

    Film Review: 'Cyrano, My Love' ('Edmond')

    As fizzy as a freshly poured glass of Perrier-Jouët, though considerably less complex, writer-director Alexis Michalik’s “Cyrano, My Love” . Part fancifully fictional account of the play’s conception, and part “Waiting for Guffman”-style depiction of the wild antics behind its first production, “Cyrano” was released in France earlier this year, and its undemanding immersion into [...]

  • Barney

    Barney the Dinosaur Movie in the Works From Mattel Films and Daniel Kaluuya

    Mattel Films, Daniel Kaluuya’s 59% banner and Valparaiso Pictures are partnering to develop a live-action motion picture based on Barney, Mattel’s iconic purple dinosaur. “Working with Daniel Kaluuya will enable us to take a completely new approach to ‘Barney’ that will surprise audiences and subvert expectations,” said Mattel Films’ Robbie Brenner. “The project will speak [...]

  • Film Republic Sells Svetla Tsotsorkova's 'Sister'

    Film Republic Sells Svetla Tsotsorkova's 'Sister' to China, France (EXCLUSIVE)

    Svetla Tsotsorkova’s second feature film “Sister,” which played at the San Sebastian and London film festivals, has been picked up by Hualu in China and Tamasa in France. World sales are handled by Xavier Henry-Rashid’s Film Republic. The film, set in a small town in present-day Bulgaria, centers on a mother and her two daughters, [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content