LOGLINE - An unemployed stockbroker amasses a fortune committing securities fraud and indulges in excessive sex-and-drug orgies until federal authorities catch up with him.
WHO THE FUCK WROTE THIS FUCKING SHIT - The Wolf of Wall Street is based on the memoir of its main character, Jordan Belfort. In 1998, Belfort was sent to prison for defrauding investors of nearly $200 million. During his 22-month stay behind bars, he shared a cell with stoner comic Tommy Chong, who says he coached Belfort on how to write about his exploits in not one, but two, best-selling books.
Emmy-award-winning The Sopranos writer/producer Terence Winter had been working in the legal department at Merrill Lynch on 1987’s Black Monday, the same day and just a quarter-mile away from where the film begins. He began developing the Wolf screenplay adaptation with DiCaprio and director Martin Scorsese in 2007.
|Leonardo DiCaprio, screenwriter Terence Winter, director Martin Scorsese|
THE FUCKING PROTAGONIST - Some critics have accused the film of glorifying a criminal. Winter told The Boston Globe he’d made “a conscious choice to not show the people on the other side of that phone. By design, you the viewer are taking the place of the people being duped by what these guys are doing and being seduced by them.”
Apparently, the writer’s goal was to help us understand by proxy how ordinary investors were charmed out of their life savings, then make us laugh at our own stupidity along with the hedonistic crooks pissing away our life savings on whores shoving candles up their butts, and then finally remind us that, yes, they really are bad guys, and then, for good measure, rub our faces in the light punishment given to Belfort.
|Giovanni Ribisi in Boiler Room|
Inspired by the same real-life events depicted in The Wolf of Wall Street, first-time writer-director Ben Younger's Boiler Room (2000) told the story of fictional foot soldier Seth Davis (Giovanni Ribisi) at the fictional Stratton-Oakmont-like firm of J.T. Marlin under the fictional, Belfort-esque Michael Brantley (Tom Everett Scott) with a relatable protagonist, a love interest, compassion for his victims, and a moving father-son conflict arc.
The lesser-known film included enough sex and drugs and fast cars to get the point across that the brokers’ windfalls were being spent on sex and drugs and fast cars, then moved on to send the hero on a journey. In short, Boiler Room told a story, whereas The Wolf of Wall Street recreated events. And Boiler Room did it with two-fifths fewer occurrences of the F-word per minute. (Scorsese is executive-producing Younger's next project, Bleed for This, starring Aaron Eckhart and Miles Teller.)
WILL THE WOLF WIN A FUCKING OSCAR TO TAKE HOME AND SHOVE UP ITS FUCKING BUTT - One elderly Oscar voter from the screenwriters branch of the Academy reportedly shouted, “Shame on you!” at Scorsese while her friend, 75-year-old actress Hope Holiday concurred, calling the movie “three hours of torture.” That’s two votes that won’t be going to The Wolf of Wall Street.
Other senior Academy members may see The Wolf of Wall Street on the ballot and confuse it with another Paramount film called The Wolf of Wall Street that was initially shot as a silent picture but then quickly re-filmed as a talkie before its 1929 release. Maybe Paramount should have called the new version Lee Daniels’ The Wolf of Wall Street.
The Departed, adapted by William Monahan, is the only Scorsese film to win Oscar gold for its screenplay. In addition to the aforementioned two that Scorsese co-wrote, only five more Scorsese-directed screenplays have ever been nominated: Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, The Color of Money, Hugo, The Aviator, and Gangs of New York.
Wolf’s screenplay has lost at the BAFTA, WGA, and Critics’ Choice awards. Its only wins so far are from the National Board of Review and the Central Ohio Film Critics Association. Unfortunately for Mr. Winter, Ohio is not a swing state in this election. Given the polarization of Wolf, if 12 Years a Slave doesn’t win Best Adapted Screenplay, WGA winner Captain Phillips or BAFTA winner Philomena are more likely to pull an upset in this category.
The combination of the letters f-u-c-k appears in the 137-page draft 181 times, or 1.32 times per page, including dialogue and scene description. The record-setting 569 occurrences in the finished movie means that for every fuck on the page, the number of times the F-bomb is uttered on screen is π. Click here to download the script for free from Paramount Pictures and count the fucking fuckity-fucks for yourself.
INTERVIEWS WITH THE FUCKING WRITER
Collider interview with Terence Winter
In the Wolf's Den: Creative Screenwriting interview
Media Mayhem: 45-minute in-depth video interview
This is Part 8 of our ten-part series of profiles on this year's Oscar-nominated screenplays.
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