This is a three-hour movie. Any movie that needs three hours to tell its story – and intends to tell it in an interesting way — needs to have a lot of either “spectacle” or “excess” or both. And there is a difference. “Ben Hur” and other DeMille epics were spectacles; “The Wolf of Wall Street” is massively excessive. There is too much sex, too much nudity, too many drugs, too much use of one four-letter word, too many scenes that are too stretched out…and yet, as Mae West once said, “too much of a good thing can be simply wonderful.” And this is. It simmers and sizzles and steams, it throws vast amounts of money at the screen just to see what sticks – what doesn’t is quickly replaced by more; it’s alternately hilariously funny and terribly tragic — and although it sags a bit in its third act, it doesn’t feel as long as it is.
Credit director Scorsese with finding a sense of rhythm that alternates dialog-heavy (and often hilarious) longer scenes with manic bursts of plot-driving energy. And this is Leonardo DiCaprio’s best work ever; he delivers a frantic and fully-fleshed-out performance of a man living at the very edge of his imagination, selling stocks – and his soul – to anyone and everyone at the end of his telephone line. The men are fabulously wealthy, the women are drop-dead gorgeous. If this is how the other half lives, we want in. And it’s all based on a true story. If you’re not offended by a lot of sex, drugs, nudity or language — this is wonderful entertainment for your money.