It’s basically a movie about boobs. If you thought that it might have something interesting to say about Wall Street’s role in our broader society, it turns out that it doesn’t. In fact, to the extent that it interacts with the broader culture, it does so anachronistically: the movie mentions collateralized debt obligations in the same sentence as high-tech stocks, and only a few scenes away from 3.5-inch disks. Hard to think of an occasion when those three coexisted. It’s possible that the movie is meant to span decades.
But let’s not fuss over details; the movie clearly doesn’t want you to. Every time DiCaprio starts talking about the details of finance, he stops and tells the camera (breaking-the-fourth-wall style) that we probably don’t care.
So if your mental model of the movie is that it’s all about boobs, you are 99.5% of the way there. There are a couple of scenes that try to be didactic or play to the “common man” — e.g., when DiCaprio asks the FBI agent whether he’s ever been on a boat (meaning a yacht) before, and the agent replies that he’s been sailing boats since he was six; or when the same agent rides a subway at the end and experiences Thoughts or perhaps Feelings in the presence of other “common men”. But those are incidental, and have been thrown in for the hell of it.
Indeed, I think [film: Wolf of Wall Street] is part of an era of movies built for people with short attention spans. I can’t say when this started, and I’m not going to be so wistfully backward-gazing as to suggest that things were better in ye olden tymes. But a movie like [film: Wolf of Wall Street] is essentially built for the same people who loved [film: Anchorman].
Don’t get me wrong: I loved [film: Anchorman], and can quote it chapter and verse. But [film: Anchorman] wasn’t a great film, and certainly wasn’t a contender for the Best Picture Oscar; it was just a collection of funny jokes. [film: Wolf of Wall Street] is just a collection of breasts.