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Oscar®Oscar® Nominee for Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Directing, Best Actor in a Leading Role (Leonardo DiCaprio), Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Jonah Hill)
Movie Review

The Wolf of Wall Street

MPAA Rating: R for sequences of strong sexual content, graphic nudity, drug use and language throughout, and for some violence.

Reviewed by: Jake Roberson

Extremely Offensive
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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Biography Crime Drama Adaptation
3 hr.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
December 25, 2013 (wide—2,537 theaters)
DVD: March 25, 2014
Copyright, Paramount Pictures, Warner Bros. Pictures click photos to ENLARGE Copyright, Paramount Pictures, Warner Bros. Pictures Copyright, Paramount Pictures, Warner Bros. Pictures Copyright, Paramount Pictures, Warner Bros. Pictures Copyright, Paramount Pictures, Warner Bros. Pictures Copyright, Paramount Pictures, Warner Bros. Pictures Copyright, Paramount Pictures, Warner Bros. Pictures Copyright, Paramount Pictures, Warner Bros. Pictures Copyright, Paramount Pictures, Warner Bros. Pictures Copyright, Paramount Pictures, Warner Bros. Pictures
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Paramount Pictures, Warner Bros. Pictures

sin / fall of man / decadence

securities fraud (stock market and brokers)

purposely causing the financial ruin of many

extreme corruption

money laundering

How historically accurate is this movie?

about Jordan Belfort

drunkenness, illegal drug use and addictions

Sexual sin

PURITY—Should I save sex for marriage? Answer

lasciviousness / lust / casual unmarried sex / fornication and adultery in the Bible


How can I deal with temptations? Answer

Sex, Love and Relationships
Learn how to make your love the best it can be. Christian answers to questions about sex, marriage, sexual addictions, and more. Valuable resources for Christian couples, singles and pastors.

GAY—What’s wrong with being gay? Answer
Homosexual behavior versus the Bible: Are people born gay? Does homosexuality harm anyone? Is it anyone’s business? Are homosexual and heterosexual relationships equally valid?

Featuring: Leonardo DiCaprioJordan Belfort
Margot Robbie … Naomi Lapaglia
Matthew McConaugheyMark Hanna
Jonah HillDonnie Azoff
Jon Bernthal … Brad
Cristin Milioti … Teresa Petrillo
Jon FavreauManny Riskin
Rob ReinerMax Belfort
Spike Jonze … Dwayne
Kyle Chandler … Patrick Denham
more »
Director: Martin Scorsese
Producer: Red Granite Pictures
Sikelia Productions
more »
Distributor: Paramount Pictures, Warner Bros. Pictures

Debauchery: “Extreme indulgence in sensual pleasures… scandalous activities involving sex, alcohol, or drugs without inhibition”

In the wake of Black Monday (October 19, 1987), a young, unemployed stock broker contemplates taking a job stocking shelves in an electronics store. His loving wife encourages him not to give up on his ambitions…, and he subsequently discovers penny stocks. This serves as his revelation, his “Eureka” moment, and his life begins a swift upward trajectory into an intoxicating world of success, wealth, sex, and drugs.

Meet Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio), a man known by some as “The Wolf of Wall Street.” He’s not such a bad guy, really. In spite of his rampant drug abuse, voracious sexual appetite, and questionable business practices, he’ll insist that he’s really just a nice guy with a nice wife and a nice child and nice stuff. He even has a generous streak running through him, one that causes him to give generously to his friends, employees, and even a charity or three.

The problem is, you see, that his “questionable” business practices are really unethical ones, and the fact that his meteoric rise to the top was funded by tromping all over the rules (and sweetly swindling the life savings out from underneath scores of “shmucks”) has the FBI breathing down his neck. This makes Jordan, his friends and partners Donnie (Jonah Hill), Nicky (P.J. Byrne), and Brad (Jon Bernthal), his wife Naomi (Margot Robbie), and parents (Rob Reiner and Christine Ebersole), more than a little nervous. In light of that, what’s a fellow to do but live harder and swindle faster?

This is the story of Jordan Belfort, or, rather, this is the story of his narcissistic exploits during a brief foray into the American economic stratosphere known as Wall Street.

Violent Content: A man is punched out and dangled over the edge of a high balcony. We see a photo of a bloody bathroom and tub in which a man committed suicide. Jordan is slapped and hit by both of his wives, and once Jordan retaliates by slapping one of them back. A man almost dies while choking on a cold cut during an overdose on Quaaludes, and another man (who also overdosed) pounds on his friend’s chest trying to get it out. Jordan crashes his car into other vehicles and objects, including once while his daughter is in the car with him.

Language: There are well upwards of 500 f-words peppering the dialog. (I counted 586, to be precise, but IMDB claims it only has 506. Apparently they didn’t consult my tally marks.) The s-word gets thrown in another 90 or so times. God and Jesus’ names are profaned in different ways about 70 times altogether. B, h, and a-words get short shrift in comparison and add up to just fewer than 30 uses in total. There are far too many other crude terms used to keep up with, but suffice it to say that words like c*cksucker, douchbag, c*nt, tw*t, and f*ggot get bandied about a remarkable number of times in the middle of all the other profanity-laden conversations.

Drug/Alcohol Content: The quantity and variety of drugs and alcohol consumed and abused within the film’s three-hour run time is formidable. Xanax, Adderall, Morphine, Pot, Cocaine, and Heroin are all discussed and/or heavily abused by nearly every character onscreen. Jordan and Donnie in particular are basically perpetually drunk and high during every waking moment. Although they enjoy each of the drugs listed above, they have a particular fondness for Cocaine and Quaaludes, the latter of which is so appreciated by Jordan that he makes extra time to wax eloquent about its rarity and effects.

A lengthy scene where Jordan and Donnie overdose on some extra-strength “ludes” is played for laughs, which becomes particularly disturbing when you consider that it plays out in front of Jordan’s young daughter and that Donnie almost chokes to death in the middle of the high. The drug abuse is commonly tied to the sexual debauchery, as Jordan and his friends frequently attempt to enhance their use by snorting drugs off of various female body parts (i.e., breasts, backsides, etc.). Speaking of sex…

Sexual Content: Just as pervasive as the language and drug content, and just as overwhelming. Both in terms of what we see onscreen and hear talked about ad nauseam. Myriad references to hookers and their attractiveness, cost, preferences, and diseases stand alone and also mingle with repeated images of them nude or in varying stages of undress. A man’s penis is shown when he begins to masturbate in public. There are several references to and partially obscured views of both gay and straight oral sex. We see scores of women both topless and fully nude from the back and the front as they cavort with lascivious men by air, land, and sea.

LUST—What does the Bible say about it? Answer

Two women in particular get extended screen time as the camera ogles their completely naked forms. Two massive orgies are shown (one gay and one straight), complete with male and female nudity, as well as a variety of simulated sex are shown onscreen. Simulated sex (and accompanying nudity) gets screen time at multiple points throughout the film as people have sex in beds, bathrooms, elevators, cars, airplanes, and yachts, as well as on top of office desks (a threesome) and piles of money. There’s more, but enough details have already been shared and trying to relate any more of them would be superfluous.

CONSEQUENCES—What are the consequences of sexual immorality? Answer

Themes: What may be the most problematic, though, is something that is a little too easy to lose sight of in the midst of the sea of sex, drugs, and money. But it’s something that ties all of that together and helps it make sense in the saddest sort of way. The most troubling part of the proceedings is the film’s underlying perpetuation and celebration of boundless self-gratification. Matthew McConaughey’s character, Mark Hanna, foreshadows this central focus early on when he counsels the wide-eyed Jordan Belfort that their ultimate goal and purpose is to “move the client’s money to your pocket.” Jordan embraces this goal quickly and wholeheartedly, and it isn’t long before he informs the audience that “their [his clients’] money was better off in my pocket. I knew how to spend it better.”

This mindset pervades the rest of the film as Jordan’s life (and the lives of his friends) becomes completely consumed by the pursuit of self-gratification via wealth accumulation, wild and promiscuous sex, and a passion for abusing any form of mind-altering substance they can lay their hands on. We might not have the same vices as Jordan Belfort, but an obsessive focus on self and self-indulgence/gratification is all too commonplace, both in our culture and within American Christianity at large. I say that with a finger pointed directly at myself.

Jesus made it clear that the path he walked and laid out for us calls us to selflessness and sacrifice, not selfishness and self-gratification. He called us to “deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow [Him]” (Matthew 16:24 and Luke 9:23). This is something many of us have lost sight of, and, while “The Wolf of Wall Street” is not responsible for our shortcomings in this area, it does represent an unbridled and unapologetic (and unhealthy) promotion, acceptance, and celebration of it. Proverbs 16:25 warns us that,

“There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.”

The movie gives us a graphic look at the way that seemed right to Jordan Belfort, but it isn’t interested in giving us much of a look at the sort of consequences that come along with that lifestyle.

Biographical movies generally take on one of four primary tones when casting their cinematic magic spell on stories based on true stories: Cautionary, Explorative, Observational, or Celebrative. Scorsese uses a brief, semi-ambiguous ending to try, it would seem, to put an observational spin on his take of Jordan Belfort’s story, but by that point he has already undercut himself by spending the better part of three hours celebrating Belfort’s particular brand of indulgent debauchery. While under house arrest and half-heartedly attempting to get himself clean, Jordan complains to Donnie that “being sober sucks… it’s so boring… I want to kill myself.” Donnie sympathizes, and it makes one wonder: Why, if their lifestyle is so great, do they need to be constantly high to endure it? Why do they depend on increasingly expensive and irresponsible behavior for fun and meaning?

These could have been questions that Scorsese asked the audience to ponder, but he doesn’t. Instead he chooses to forgo leading us to any particular conclusion, which leaves the audience to consider the film as a whole. It is from this vantage point that we are left with the conclusion that Jordan Belfort’s problem wasn’t really the sex… or the drugs… or even the lust for wealth. No, instead it suggests that his real problems were deep-seated insecurity and an unhealthy dependence on approval and control that led him to getting caught.

What audiences are left with is a romp-roaring celebration of irresponsible living, a cavalcade of images portraying reckless drug abuse and sexual depravity, and an ending that amounts to little more than a casual “kinda lame that he got himself caught” shrug of the shoulders. Which is a shame, because, technically, it’s a good film. Scorsese keeps the pacing tight, DiCaprio, along with the rest of the cast, is nothing short of magnetic. It’s just that their behavior, and what we see onscreen, shouldn’t feel so magnetic.

Violence: Moderate to heavy / Profanity: Extreme / Sex/Nudity: Extreme

Hollywood“VOTING” FOR MOVIES FILLED WITH IMMORAL BEHAVIOR—Every time you buy a movie ticket or rent a video you are casting a vote telling Hollywood “That’s what I want.” Why does Hollywood continue to promote immoral programming? Are YOU part of the problem? Answer

CELEBRITIES’ VIEWS—What do “Hollywood” celebrities believe about spiritual issues? Find out

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.

Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive—To those of you who will undoubtedly post “negative” reviews of this film immediately after you’ve seen it, I have only this to say: What did you expect? It’s a Scorsese film. THE WOLF OF WALL STREET is an excellent—and yes, very adult—exploration of greed that will leave many uncomfortable, but that’s the point. This is a hard R, dark-comedy/drama that barely escaped an NC-17. You may ask, “Was all of that necessary?” My answer is a resounding “yes”. You can’t explore this subject matter without delving into this sort of “offensive” material (“offensive” being entirely subjective). I commend Scorsese and the filmmakers for their refusal to water down the disgusting nature of the lifestyles that are presented here. It’s supposed to be ugly.

The intention is to make you laugh at the debauchery for two hours, and then pummel you with the reality of the situation in the last hour. For the characters in this film, sin is fun only for a season, and then the party is over, leaving much destruction in its wake. If you are genuinely offended by this type of film, please, stay away. For the rest of you, I can only say, see it as soon as possible.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Steven Adam Renkovish, age 31 (USA)
Positive—What a film to be released on Christmas day!… and I’m not even sure I believe in Jesus Christ. I have not lived in a world of greed and excess, but neither have I lived a sheltered existence. Although I was entertained by this film, I am bothered by the exaggerated, yes EXAGGERATED depiction of American greed and excess! I would rather condone the mob murders in “Goodfellas,” because it is more believable! I cannot accept that human beings would degrade and self-destruct to this extent and come out alive. The sex scene with flight attendants on the flight to Switzerland… ridiculous! Come on, Jordon Belfort, admit that this is not Your story, but that of another scam-man, namely, Martin Scorsese, who would do anything to make his film a hit.

By the way, I watched “The Bells of Saint Mary’s” today on TCM, another totally unbelievable film, directed by Leo McCarey, but which I thoroughly enjoyed.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4
—M Fisher (Faith: Agnostic), age 71 (USA)
Neutral—THE WOLF OF WALL STREET directed my Martin Scorsese was brought to my attention in the middle of 2013 when I heard Leonardo DiCaprio was hopefully starring in another film that could hopefully inherit him an Oscar—unfortunately it did not. The film is based on a memoir by Jordan Belfort as he tells a story as he gradually earned more and more money—and along with that came power, sex and drugs.

From a Christian’s point-of-view I think when you’re presented with challenging content you need to understand that in order to get the message of the film across you need to tell that story accurately, otherwise it can lose its power. I’m always looking back to the Old Testament, which, even though we have a God which is SO GOOD—people were raped, murdered, cheated etc. If The Bible was actually accurately told through media, a lot of it should be only viewed by adults because that is exactly what happened. more »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—Aaron, age 21 (United Kingdom)
Negative—I’ll keep it simple. I had read reviews about the strong drug and sexual content of this film, but decided that I would see it anyways based on my fondness of Leo’s acting and the awards buzz the movie has been getting. I wish that I had saved the money and time. My advice to any Christian (or human, for that matter) debating going to see this film is this: pass. The graphic sex scenes seemed to only pause for graphic drug use, and often the two were simultaneous. I can’t even say that the acting or story were that compelling.

I’m sure there will be at least a few audience reviews on this site praising the artistry of the film, encouraging viewers to watch with discretion and appreciate it for what it is. Some might even include something along the lines of “what did you expect? It’s a Scorsese film.”

I will presumptively answer that question with this: I expected a director of Scorsese’s prestige and skill to have a bit more respect for his audience. I expected the acting and story to compensate for the inevitable worldly content. I was disappointed all around.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—Jon, age 31 (USA)
Negative—With an R rating, given the type of film this is, I expected some depictions of debauchery. What I did not expect was a three-hour porn fest. I kept hoping we would get past the graphic scenes and proceed with the story, but I began to realize that those scenes were the point; that was all this movie offered. Maybe there was a finer point made later on. I didn’t stick around to find out—I left about an hour into the movie feeling sick that I had chosen to spend Christmas evening this way.

If you can justify watching hours of explicit sex scenes, drug use, f-bombs uttered every few seconds, and the like, merely to feel disgusted about human depravity, maybe you would want to see this movie. I wouldn’t recommend it. Save your money, save your conscience.
—Jordan, age 24 (USA)
Negative—The Wolf of Wall Street—Sex, Drugs and General Debauchery As A Basis For Slapstick Comedy! Martin Scorsese, the director of “The Wolf of Wall Street,” is one of the great directors of our time. His movies always have a point of view that he pushes to their ultimate and sometimes unflinching conclusions. You can see this in “Taxi Driver” where he takes the loner protagonist, Travis Bickle, on a ride to the very edge of insanity. In the Wolf, Scorsese also has a point of view, and like Taxi Driver he takes this one to its ultimate end. That is, the shear absurdity, ridiculousness and corruption of one very creepy guy’s life. The problem, it ultimately doesn’t work.

Here’s why. “The Wolf…” is a story about the rise and fall of one Jordan Belfort. Who, while a real person, is also an archetype for a sociopathic Wall Street broker. In this context, Scorsese takes a classic tale and turns it on its head (i.e., think Horatio Alger on acid). A man down on his luck, finds something he is really-really good at, creates an empire around it, and ultimately loses it all through greed and hubris. Here Belfort’s talent is selling, but he doesn’t even try to sell anything of value. Instead, he uses his talent to con unsuspecting purchasers of stock into thinking they are getting in on the ground floor of something amazing when in reality they are buying nothing but air. more »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 2½
—Bob, age 53 (USA)
Negative—I did not expect it to be a porn film when reivews said “masterpiece.” This was not much about deceptive stockbrokerage, but it was all about nudity and doped up people vividly having sex with multiple partners. I thought the film was about going to be about Wall Street and tried to follow the storyline, but all I saw was a porn movie. I threw the DVD in the trash after viewing this. If a person is waiting for the film to get better toward the end, do not waste your time. It does not.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: none
—Anita, age 70 (USA)
Negative—Nasty, nasty, nasty! Dicaprio and McConaughey must feel desperate to have their names attached to this film. And, the fact that it won all those awards shows the character of those voting for the Oscars. All the negative reviews are right on. This movie uses constant vulgar language, sex, adultery, homosexuality, and other immoral acts. And, yes God’s name IS taken in vain. No, I didn’t watch much of this movie, after seeing what it was all about. You don’t need to make this kind of movie to get the point across. I would say that Scorsese is just an old pervert.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: ½
—3rdcommandmentviolation, age 49 (USA)
Comments from non-viewers
NegativePhillipians 4:8, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Just reading the review, I feel that any born again Christian can honestly and logically say that it does not follow the guidelines that were clearly laid out for us in Phillipians as Christ-followers. Culture is trying and unfortunately slowing and gradually watering down our morals to where we think that this sort of thing is ENTERTAINMENT… and humorous.

These are sins that Jesus died on the cross for-we should never find them funny or entertaining. Sin should break our hearts for this world, not make us chuckle and want to remind it. Married people-looking at another naked man or woman IS A SIN! If your wife came home to see a naked woman standing in your woman and you watching her-would she consider it cheating. Hopefully your answer is YES! Putting a woman or man in a box through a screen does not make it different. It is a real person. I urge us as Christians to take a stand and stop supporting this culture that we are surrounding with. Jesus died on the cross a painful death. The least we can do is skip a movie.
—Brittany, age 26 (USA)
Negative—…Merely reading the sex description section for this movie at IMDB can one’s soul sick. It is strictly a violent and vivid porn movie. The movie should be avoided or forever have violent, vivid sex in your head. I have not nor will ever see it. Shame on the cast and crew, on film and off, that promote such depravity. I was never a fan of DiCaprio, except in the movie, “Inception,” a rather clean movie. Now, I am less of a fan.
—Chas, age 62 (USA)
Negative—I’ll just start off by saying that I read this movie’s synopsis here on the site, and I’m not exaggerating when I say this: I would never, EVER, watch this movie, regardless of how old I am. The violence and drugs are one thing, but I read about the sex scenes. I mean, a scene of a man masturbating in public, showing his private parts, then showing orgies… In all honesty, if I saw either of those things I would get sick right then and there in the theater. Even though this movie is fiction, it’s a realistic example of how people behave when they don’t have Jesus in their life.

Please, do not pay money to see this movie. In fact, buying it on DVD would be a waste of money, too (I wouldn’t even want a movie like this to be in my house). Also, pray for the people who participated in the film (actors, writers, director, producer, etc.). Ask God to give them the guidance in their life to realize that it makes absolutely no sense to degrade yourself just to make money. If less people go to see these trashy movies—and pray—then Hollywood might get the message.
—T., age 20 (USA)
Negative—As a non-viewer having only read the reviews and seen, only partially the trailer, I have only one question: Why does a film of this nature have to be made? Of course the foulness of man’s mind I suppose must be attended to, but then why make it public? This is not simply R or even NC-17, this is the most vulgar pornography. I trust that no Academy Awards will come its way, but then that’s probably not going to happen given Hollywood’s propensity for the worst that men can do. I enjoy good movies, but this one cannot in any way, shape or form find its way into this category whatsoever.
—Jim Duval, age 70 (Canada)
Negative—I went to see this film with my husband of 30 years and our 19 year old son. I have never been so offended by a movie and we see a lot of movies. We walked out after 20 minutes due to the constant profanity, pornographic scenes and drug use. I strongly feel like this movie should be rated X. Don’t subject your mind and soul as a follower of Christ to this garbage! I kept asking as we walked out, “what is this world coming to?”
—Laurie, age 51 (USA)

Sorry, no other viewer comments received yet. If you have seen this movie, PLEASE share your observations and insights with others to be posted here. GO