The Wolf of Wall Street

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
The Wolf of Wall Street Movie Poster Image
Popular with kidsParents recommend
Intoxicating rise-and-fall story is full of sex and drugs.
  • R
  • 2013
  • 180 minutes

Parents say

age 15+
Based on 84 reviews

Kids say

age 15+
Based on 157 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages
The character reaps untold riches from illegal activities and has a general contempt for anyone else he deems not smart enough to figure out such brilliant schemes. He's eventually caught, but he doesn't seem to learn any lessons. Indeed, he begins to make a living as a motivational speaker, teaching more people how to be like him. Ultimately, the movie makes a point that excessive desire can never be quenched and can lead down a dark path.
Positive Role Models & Representations
The main character's very charismatic and entertaining, but unfortunately doesn't have a scrap of decency or humanity. He's greedy, ruthless, and completely without qualms about doing things that are illegal. He's addicted to sex and drugs (which he does admit). He puts his business and personal interests over those of his family. And though he's eventually caught, he never seems truly redeemed.
There's a terrifying storm at sea that nearly capsizes a yacht. Characters fight amongst themselves quite often, with enraged screaming and yelling, and occasional hitting. There's an interrogation scene in which a character's bashed in the face, followed by sprays of blood. In the opening scene, traders play a cruel game in which they toss dwarves at a big target. A major character chokes and stops breathing for a moment but is rescued.
The main character cheats on his wife, marries a new woman, and then cheats on her with an array of prostitutes. In one scene, he snorts cocaine out of a prostitute's anus. Many of the traders at his firm are shown briefly having raw, graphic sex with prostitutes and other women. Oral sex is suggested several times. There's copious female nudity, as well as male bottoms. A female character teases the main character by opening her legs in his general direction, though nothing's shown to the camera. A shot of a large orgy of gay men is shown. There are several references to masturbation, and in one very brief shot (so quick viewers might miss it) a masturbating man's erect penis is exposed.
Language is very strong and constant, mostly involving "f--k" and all permutations, but also "s--t," "c--t," "c--k," and just about every other obscene word imaginable. Also anti-gay slurs.
A white Lamborghini plays a part in the movie. The Steve Madden shoe company figures in the plot. Absolut vodka, Mercedes-Benz, and Armani suits are mentioned.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
The main character's a drug addict. He's seen drinking alcohol to excess, snorting cocaine, and taking all kinds of pills, but extra time's spent on his favorite: Quaaludes. The movie describes the effect of taking Quaaludes, and one sequence is dedicated to a memorable night in which he takes an extra-strong dose. The character's closest friend is also a heavy drug user. Cigarette smoking is shown, as well. At the end of the movie, it's suggested that he's cleaned up and become sober.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Wolf of Wall Street is based on the true story of a financial broker who bent the rules, became enormously wealthy, and was not caught for years. He lives a life of debauchery and excess, cheating on his wife, remarrying, and cheating on his new wife with an endless array of prostitutes. Many characters are shown having graphic sex of all types. The main character uses every kind of drug under the sun, but especially prefers Quaaludes; the movie spends extra time on the effects of this drug. A secondary character is also a heavy drug user. Language is very strong and constant, with "f--k" uttered nearly constantly, as well as almost every other vulgar word in the book. As for violence, there's mostly enraged shouting, but there's a bloody face-bashing scene, some domestic violence where a wife gets punched a couple of times, and a quick shot of a (very tangential) bloody suicide. The legendary Martin Scorsese's the director, and most movie buffs will want to see this, but as with GoodFellas and Casino, this one's not recommended for kids of any age.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bywatchfuleyemom January 1, 2014

Disgusted and Disappointed

ABSOLUTELY NOT FOR KIDS OR TEENS!! This movie should have an "X" rating and I cannot understand why it does not! My 17 year old son wanted to see th... Continue reading
Adult Written byI_TellTheTruth January 12, 2014

A Masterpiece That is Not For Children

Wow, this was quite a good movie. Honestly. I could go on about how great it was, but that's not really what this website is for.
-------------------------... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written bywhatnoonesays December 30, 2013

The Wolf of Wall Street: In the Running for the Worst Movie Ever

The Wolf of Wall Street is the only movie I have ever walked out on in my entire life. The film is nothing but a nonstop orgy of sex and drugs. It is not only t... Continue reading
Teen, 17 years old Written bykenwi January 29, 2014

Strong drugs are very extremely worst.

This movie is really bad that I also serious that this is not possible. I don't appreciate that this is very rudely.

What's the story?

Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio) starts his thrilling new job as a Wall Street broker on Monday, Oct. 19, 1987, when one of the biggest market crashes in history occurred. After that he's forced to take a job dealing in "penny stocks," trading semi-worthless stocks, but for 50 percent commissions. Teaming up with a neighbor, Donnie Azoff (Jonah Hill), he takes this idea and opens his own firm, employing high-pressure sales tactics and shady techniques to earn huge piles of cash. The money comes rolling in, and life becomes fast and exciting. Jordan also turns to alcohol, prostitutes, and drugs (especially cocaine and Quaaludes), as the company grows larger. But how long can this supercharged lifestyle last?

Is it any good?

Director Martin Scorsese, assisted by his longtime editor Thelma Schoonmaker, keeps up an astoundingly intoxicating pace for nearly three hours. He draws on his previous movies GoodFellas and Casino for the template of THE WOLF OF WALL STREET, packing in many outrageous details behind a criminal organization over an epic running time. A huge cast, including perhaps most memorably Matthew McConaughey, helps out with small, potent performances.
The difference here is that The Wolf of Wall Street may be the funniest movie Scorsese has ever made. Every few minutes it hurls something so shocking and high-spirited that laughter can be the only response. Yet the movie's monstrous energy seems to be fueled by something both exciting and rotten. Leonardo DiCaprio gives a true heavyweight performance, laced with contempt, and he's never truly redeemed. Rather, Scorsese ends his movie on a scene that illustrates the pitfalls of desire, and how it can never be entirely fulfilled.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the movie's extensive use of sex. Does any of it come from a loving, respectful relationship? How do women fare in this movie and in these sexual relationships?
  • How do the characters approach the use of alcohol, smoking, and drugs? Do they seem to get any enjoyment out of them? Does the movie make these things look appealing? What are the real consequences of drinking to excess or smoking or using drugs?
  • What's the appeal of a character with such questionable morals? Martin Scorsese often makes movies about these kinds of characters. Why is he so highly respected and acclaimed?

Movie details

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