The trailer for Martin Scorsese "Wolf of Wall Street" starring Leonardo DiCaprio was released this weekend, and boy does it look like a hoot. DiCaprio plays Jordan Belfort, a young, hot shot banker who makes buckets of money conning the stock market when the economy was booming in the 1990s.
"The year I turned 26, I made $49 million, which really pissed me off because it was three shy of a million a week," he brags.
Images of fancy cars, fancy boats, pretty girls and plenty of "make it rain" antics flash to Kanye West's song "Black Skinhead" (off his "Yeezus" album, out Tuesday). It also features Matthew McConaughey playing Belfort's goofy mentor, Jonah Hill as his trusty sidekick, and an array of circus animals and even a midget, who appears to exist purely for the entertainment of the film's rambunctious broker types. "Was all this legal?" DiCaprio's character asks rhetorically. "Absolutely not."
Judging by the trailer, the film will be playing for laughs. But is America ready to be amused by some morally-reprehensible shenanigans within the banking industry, even if they are from a slightly different time period, considering the economy is still slumping out of a financial crisis caused – in part – by some morally-reprehensible shenanigans within the banking industry?
Since the financial crisis, the films about bankers-gone-wild have gravitated towards a more somber tone, whether they explicitly critique the 2000s' boom and bust, like "Margin Call" or "Too Big to Fail," or at least, use the financial crisis as a backdrop to show the consequence of one percent-er greed, like the "Wall Street" sequel, "Money Never Sleeps."
The recent season of "Arrested Development" – a TV series as unabashedly comedic as they come – was criticized for how it treated the economic collapse that occurred since the show was last on the air, though the Bluth family's riches are more connected to the actual housing bubble than to the Wall Street bankers who profited off of it. Even "The Great Gatsby," based on a novel written and set decades ago (and coincidentally , DiCaprio's latest film), drew uncomfortable comparisons to contemporary shows of ostentatious wealth.
"Wolf of Wall Street" is based on a 2007 memoir of the same title by the real-life Jordan Belfort, who according to the New York Times made more than $100 million by manipulating stocks before going to jail for his scheme. Perhaps, since we know Belfort will eventually be punished for his misdeeds, we can enjoy the wild ride that gets him there.