Wall Street Movie Poster Image

Wall Street



Timeless cautionary tale of excess has other mature themes.
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 1987
  • Running Time: 126 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The movie's theme is an ancient one: a character sells his soul to "the devil" in exchange for untold riches and power. But he soon realizes that he has neglected some of the most important things in life, such as family, loyalty, and friendship. In the end, he realizes his mistake and sacrifices everything to try and correct it, and to save his father's livelihood.

Positive role models

Gordon Gekko is the movie's most interesting and seductive character, but he's also "the devil," capable of the vilest kinds of evil. Bud Fox (Charlie Sheen) is the movie's hero, but he spends most of the movie under Gordon's spell and enjoying his wealthy lifestyle. Perhaps the best role model in the film is Bud's father, Carl (Martin Sheen), who runs a small business and recognizes what's really going on. He remains cool-headed and offers his support, love, and trust to Bud, even as he understands that Bud must eventually learn his own lessons.


Some verbal sparring and one brief fistfight.


There's one sex scene shown in silhouette, and a comic suggestion of oral sex in the back of a limo (but not shown). A naked girl climbs out of the hero's bed one morning. It's suggested that the female lead (Daryl Hannah) is sleeping with two different men. Lots of sexual innuendo with a negative tone against women, who are also treated like sex objects.


Plenty of foul language including multiple uses of "f--k" and "s--t." Plus "scumbag," "c--ksucker," "Jesus," "Jesus Christ," "hell," "son of a bitch," "bastard," "jerk," and "piss," among other examples.


No real product placement here, but the movie is all about accumulating wealth and buying "the best of everything." The movie is beyond brand names, the art objects are one of a kind, and the clothes are tailored.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Most adults in this movie drink in a background, responsible way. Characters drink beer or wine with dinner, for example. Some characters smoke, and one character receives a box of cigars as a birthday present.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this popular 1980s-era tale of greed and corruption is filled with strong language and sexual references, as well as a condescending attitude toward women. Characters smoke and drink, but not to excess. The main character eventually comes around and realizes what's really important in life: his relationships.

What's the story?

Bud Fox (Charlie Sheen) works for a brokerage firm, impatiently trying to make a living through cold-calls. Fed up, he talks his way into a meeting with high-roller Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas). Gekko takes a liking to Bud and shows him how to make some real money on Wall Street, even if the methods are a bit shady. Bud begins to enjoy his newfound wealth and power, as well as a high-class girlfriend (Daryl Hannah). He starts to set up a deal to save the small-scale airline business run by his good-hearted father (Martin Sheen), but discovers that Gordon is more interested in making money than in helping people. So Bud must decide whether to sacrifice everything he has worked for in the name of family, love, and loyalty.

Is it any good?


Directed by Oliver Stone, and dedicated to his stockbroker father, WALL STREET plays out with Stone's usual bombastic intensity. Some of the 1980s-era details may seem a bit dated, and the movie's attitude toward women is slightly despicable, but the overall story arc, echoing the "Faust" tale, is timeless. It can be on the predictable side, but movie as a whole is still effectively seductive.

It's telling that Michael Douglas won the movie's only Oscar for his portrayal of Gordon Gekko, who is something of a devil/Mephistopheles character, and effortlessly steals the show away from the more heroic characters. Eventually, right wins the day, but the movie is more memorable when Gekko, like the Grinch, is being bad. (And it's still remembered for Gekko's infamous "greed" speech.) Additionally, Wall Street manages to capture the mood and methods of Wall Street without getting too complex, and the overall story is told clearly and well.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about greed. Is it good? Is it possible for businesses to work without being greedy?

  • Why is the Gordon Gekko character the most seductive and the most interesting? How do we come to see him for the first time? What does he represent?

  • Was Bud really happy when he was rich and working for Gordon? Can money and objects buy happiness for a short while? For the long haul?

  • What other media is a commentary on excess and greed? Is it still glorified? Expand your thinking to outlets that didn't exist in the '80s like Reality TV (My Super Sweet 16, for example).

Movie details

Theatrical release date:December 11, 1987
DVD/Streaming release date:September 18, 2007
Cast:Charlie Sheen, Daryl Hannah, Michael Douglas
Director:Oliver Stone
Studio:Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment
Run time:126 minutes
MPAA rating:R

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What parents and kids say

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Adult Written byLowe's man June 7, 2014

A good introduction to the goods and evils of the business world.

When Bud Fox meets Gordon Gekko he thinks that Gekko can teach him about the business world. Fox starts to think otherwise when he sees that Gekko is greedy and focused solely on money. At that point Fox has to make a critical moral choice. A perfect opportunity for parents to talk to their children about some of the evils of the business world. It's also a great opportunity for parents to let their children know that, in the 1980s, some high-powered conservative men like Gordon Gekko held on to sexist beliefs and didn't treat women well, as they hadn't yet caught on to the idea of treating women equally like most others did. Older teens can learn something about the inner workings of businesses.
Teen, 16 years old Written byevolinag October 2, 2012

Language caused R-rating in interesting drama about money and greed.

"Wall Street" is a film drama by Oliver Stone. This movie is about a man (Charlie Sheen), who wants to become rich via stock market, and another man (Michael Douglas) who already is. The movie asks questions about what is more important: feelings or money? This is a very important question and something you can discuss about. The movie's highlinght is Michael Douglas' Oscar-winning performance. He is a great actor and is the star of this movie. The movie itself is somewhat hard to judge. It can be pretty confusing and hectic at some parts, even though the cineamtography and the editing is quite calm to neutral. If you are not known to the stock market, the movie can be hard to follow. However, it still is interesting, well-written, gives much to think about and has a great lead actor with Michael Douglas. (SPOILERS may follow:) The language is mostly what caused the R-Rating. There is typical R-language. The sexuality is never seen explicitly. It is clear a woman performs oral sex on a man, but the camera cuts way from the act. A sex scene, but it is very dark and seen from a distance. A scene of breast nudity. The sex in this movie is not worse than the sex in "The Terminator". A brief fistfight, nothing you would not expect from a PG movie. (END OF SPOILERS) If they can handle a little language, implied sex and brief nudity, this is suitable for teenagers and up.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Teen, 17 years old Written by80sfan8 January 29, 2014

Might bore some older kids

Besides the brief nude scene and language, there isn't too much questionable content in this movie, but this movie will bore some older kids. It is a very dialogue heavy movie and a movie about the stock market will sound boring to some people. If your kid doesn't mind talky movies, then this movie is fine for them.
What other families should know
Great messages
Too much swearing