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December 25, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Several critics are comparing Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street with his 1990 comedy Goodfellas — with Wall Street traders taking the place of New York mobsters. Some reviews suggest that there’s probably not all that much difference between the two and point out that the screenplay is the work of Sopranos writer Terence Winter. Claudia Puig in USA Today notes that the movie is very much “akin to Goodfellas in substance and structure” What concerns her, however, is that Scorsese doesn’t appear to take a stand about the behavior of the swindlers he’s depicting. “It’s not entirely clear … if Scorsese is appalled by the bad behavior or merely winking at it. These are repellent people who don’t suffer the consequences they deserve,” she writes. But that may be Scorsese’s intent, Joe Neumaier suggests in the New York Daily News. He describes it as “a delirious, manic, push-the-limits comedy of gaudy amorality that tests the audience’s taste.” And he concludes by noting, “Scorsese’s film definitely gives the thieves the last laugh.” Indeed, writes A.O. Scott in the New York Times, this movie is not about a character who believes that greed is good. “What matters to him is that greed is fun.” As for the morality of the film, Scott concludes his review by asking, “Does the Wolf of Wall Street condemn or celebrate? Is it meant to provoke disgust or envy? These may be, in the present phase of American civilization, distinctions without a meaningful difference behind them.” Betsy Sharkey in the Los Angeles Times simply concludes that this is Scorsese’s “brashest, most provocative work yet.” But some critics don’t buy into the greed-as-entertainment theme at all. “The movie’s benumbed by its own parade of bad behavior,” writes Michael Phillips in the Chicago Tribune. And Lou Lumenick in the New York Post remarks, “Scorsese’s classic Goodfellas explored crime and its consequences in fascinating detail, but this is a very different kind of movie. It’s basically an advertorial showing that crime pays.”