The Wolf Of Wallstreet Review
Credit: Mary Cybulski

“It’s too long!” “It’s obscene!” “It’s Marty’s best since Goodfellas!” “It’s shameful!” “It’s hilarious!”

By now, you probably know that Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street is this season’s most polarizing film. Dropped on Christmas Day in the midst of Oscar season, the debauched tale about Wall Street swindler Jordan Belfort has pushed critics into two camps: it’s either a worthy companion piece to Goodfellas about white-collar greed, or a misguided, misogynistic opus that glorifies everything it claims to abhor. No one seems to be saying, “Um, it was okay.”

Leonardo DiCaprio’s performance, however, is something most everyone agrees upon. After Django Unchained and the Wolf, it’s going to be difficult for some to look at Titanic the same way again — but he’s great and fascinating in the way Jack Nicholson was great and fascinating during his historic early 1970’s run. As Belfort, “he gives a hell of a performance that’s electrifyingly loose, perversely funny, and dripping with jerk charisma,” says EW’s Chris Nashawaty. “It says something about DiCaprio’s oily charm that you almost want him to get away with it.”

Maybe you’ve already seen the movie and just want to see the pundits go at it. Or maybe you wisely chose Saving Mr. Banks for your family’s Christmas Day movie selection, slyly postponing Wolf for yourself the day after grandmom flies home. Either way, click below to see bull and bear critics wage war over The Wolf of Wall Street.

Chris Nashawaty (Entertainment Weekly)

“From its twisted opening scene, where a floor of coked-up boiler-room meatheads toss dwarfs for bacchanalian sport, the feverishly paced film is hell-bent on making the audience feel like they just snorted a Belushian mountain of blow. You can practically feel your teeth grinding to dust. As with any high, though, it also doesn’t know when to stop.”

Liam Lacey (Toronto Globe and Mail) ▲

Wolf is discernibly a companion piece to … Casino and Goodfellas, movies made before the most influential American director of the past half-century decided to get responsible and Oscar-conscious. Welcome back, Mr. Scorsese, your sardonic Mr. Hyde side has been missed.”

David Edelstein (New York) ▼

“[Maybe three-quarters of the movie] is a veritable orgy of immorality, each scene making the same point only more and more outrageously, the action edited with Scorsese’s usual manic exuberance but to oh-so-monotonous effect.”

Richard Roeper (Chicago Sun-Times)

“Scorsese tells the Wolf’s story almost strictly from the Wolf’s point of view. We never see his victims. It’s actually an effective technique, because the Wolf certainly never really saw his victims either — not as actual human beings who could be hurt by his financial hocus-pocus.”

Betsy Sharkey (Los Angeles Times) ▲

“As DiCaprio increasingly proves, he is great at playing the irredeemable. I guess the wolf is not quite as bad as the sadistic Southern slaver he brought to merciless life in Django Unchained last year. But the performance is somehow more provocative in the way it traffics in modern-day sins.”

Mick LaSalle (San Francisco Chronicle) ▲

“It’s a huge performance, an abandoned performance, one that requires that he push, sell and celebrate, in between panicking, raving and, in one notable case, foaming at the mouth from a drug overdose. DiCaprio’s sheer energy is staggering, but so is his subtlety and his comic precision.”

Ty Burr (Boston Globe)

“The women? Oh, please, this movie is not about its women, and that’s both the point and the problem. … When does a movie about creepy macho excess turn into creepy macho excess? I’m not sure this one wants you to ask.”

David Denby (New Yorker) ▼

The Wolf of Wall Street is a fake. It’s meant to be an exposé of disgusting, immoral, corrupt, obscene behavior, but it’s made in such an exultant style that it becomes an example of disgusting, obscene filmmaking.”

Rene Rodriguez (Miami Herald) ▲

“If it had been a drama, The Wolf of Wall Street might have been unwatchable: There’s simply too much of everything. But Scorsese and screenwriter Terence Winter hit on the genius idea to turn the story into a riotous comedy, one that keeps topping itself everytime you think it can’t possibly get crazier.”

Richard Corliss (TIME) ▼

WoWS doesn’t show a character changing; it sends him on a jag of doing it and doing it until they both end in exhaustion. Its last two hours are not an enrichment of the first but an instant remake.”

Ann Hornaday (Washington Post)

“[Kyle] Chandler’s clean-cut FBI agent would have been the perfect Javert to Belfort’s monotonous amorality. As it is, he gets only one or two substantive scenes, one a subway ride home that speaks volumes for being wordless and relatively brief.”

The Wolf of Wall Street

Overall Metacritic rating (1-100): 75

Rotten Tomatoes: 77 percent

Rated: R

Length: 179 Minutes

Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Matthew McConaughey, Kyle Chandler

Directed by Martin Scorsese

Distributor: Paramount

The Wolf of Wall Street
  • Movie
  • 179 minutes