Powered by a dangerous intellect, a dash of sardonism and the ability to get away with crimes of any and all calibers, Leonardo DiCaprio’s character in The Wolf of Wall Street, Mr. Peabody, is one of the most shocking characters to enter the silver screen in decades. The film follows the irascible Mr. Peabody as he adopts Sherman, played by a very off sounding Jonah Hill, as they help to shape the course of the world, fight several government organizations, and in a shocking twist, are praised for bringing the world safely back from a near-collapse that they actually caused.
Unfortunately, director Martin Scorsese ultimately relies more on outlandish stunts and actions as opposed to having heart and humor to tell his story of an offbeat father and son relationship that struggles to convey the messages of trusting your “children” and ultimately learning to show that you love someone without fear. Instead you get told that a few times but it lacks any true proof or conviction.
Sadly, the only main female character in the movie, Penny, played by Margot Robbie, ultimately falls flat as a character to the point where my film-going-buddy, Tim, called her the worst part of the movie. While she is originally an assertive and aggressive girl responding to Sherman destroying her world and status, she quickly becomes cowed, compliant and sufficiently weaker leaving the world changing actions to the male leads, simply another person in the theater. And on another note, at no point do two women have a conversation with each other so it fails the Bechdal test, though every female character is named, so there is that.
Luckily a variety of gags, especially those involving celebrity cameos and an overall outstanding ensemble, make the movie work – if only on the surface. Also I didn’t know this was a movie about time travel and I didn’t see any of the Jonah Hill penis that was the talk of the Oscars, which is probably better since his character was apparently 7 years old, though knowing the increasingly conservative movie audience and management at the AMC, this could have been an edited version for the whole family to enjoy. They did that with The King’s Speech.
Ultimately the Wolf of Wall Street entertains enough to last it’s 3 hour run time – it felt like half that length, and it has just enough wit to make it stand out from the myriad of also-rans, though ultimately not enough originality to make it anything memorable.