“Was all this legal? Absolutely not.”
The thing about Wall Street is I’ll never really understand Wall Street. I mean sure, I get that there’s a buncha people who talk on the phone all day and deal with a bunch of money stuff, but it’s not like I’m some kind of stock expert. So if you’re anything like me then brace yourself: because Gordon Gekko seems tame compared to Jordan Belfort aka the guy in The Wolf of Wall Street who made his fortune off selling a sh*t ton of penny stocks.
For those of you who don’t know what penny stocks are, they’re these pink sheets of paper that companies post their shares worth a penny. But if you’re like Belfort, the value of the penny stocks were not in their actuality of being worth something in the long run, but rather it was the charm of his renowned sales pitch that made for his giant profit.
And you know that old saying, mo’ money, mo’ problems? As much as it seems like total bullsh*t, in Belfort’s case it’s inevitably true. Here’s a guy who started innocently wanting to be a big shot stock broker but accidentally fell into the lifestyles of the rich (he refused his first drink on the job, if that gives you any indication of his once innate goodness) portrayed at the very beginning by the typical Wall Street asshole Mark Hanna (Matthew McConaughey). And THEN one day he meets the weirdo waiter Donnie (Jonah Hill) at the diner who insisted he work for Belfort (imagine: Jonah Hill not playing some quirky off-the-wall sidekick role). The next thing you know: the two have started their own penny stock venture that would eventually become Stratton Oakmont.
Oh, and Belfort ends up divorcing his hairdresser wife for Miss Naomi (Margot Robbie); they move to a Long Island estate where they live happily ever after. OK not really, Belfort’s schemes and refusal to cooperate with government tax regulations (let’s just say they knew the whole entire time) turns the whole situation into sort of a mess, and Naomi’s once smitten appeal for Belfort quickly diminishes as the money begins to disappear (and let’s face it, Belfort was never really a good lover).
I’d say Belfort and Donnie’s scheming profits turned evil the moment they forced a female employee to humiliatingly shave her head in front of the entire office (for $10,000, but still!). Which while we’re on the subject, there’s been some heat regarding women’s roles in the film: a completely obvious point after watching. But this is not a feminist documentary on Jordan Belfort and his history of neglecting women as human beings on Wall Street; this is a movie based on a real guy who did a lot of real horrible things, and if certain parts are hard for you to take in, then I’m happy society can recognize that.
Whatever the case, don’t think that any of this stock business was happening sober. Belfort was a huge jerk; he did a lot of drugs to function, and it probably had a lot to do with the fact there were always hookers around or some ridiculous office shenanigans were constantly going down. And while cocaine had a huge role in the film (expecting it to receive an Oscar nom. this year), it was the scene where Donnie and Belfort overdose on expired Lemmons that had everyone at the theater going. So of course, The Wolf of Wall Street is over-the-top, nonsensical, and pretty extreme. But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t good.