Starring: Michael Douglas, Charlie Sheen, Daryl Hannah, Martin Sheen
Directed by: Oliver Stone
Rated: R for language and nudity
Movie Released: 1987
Gordon Gecko once said that “Greed for lack of a better term, is good.” That saying must have been running through the brains of Oliver Stone as he ramped up to revive the 80’s stockbroker classic, Wall Street with a sequel last weekend Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps. If Douglas’s return to the silver screen wasn’t enough to get you coughing up the dollar bills to see the film in theater, perhaps it’s time to revisit (or see for the first time) Wall Street.
I am ashamed to say that it wasn’t until recently that I finally put that copy of Wall Street I had in the DVD player. Ihave no clue why but I always thought the film was some epic thing that was going to span an afternoon. Instead, it runs a smooth 2 hours in length, far from the ginormous film I pretended it to be in my procrastination. For those not familiar with the film, it follows small time stock broker, Bud Fox (Charlie Sheen) as he goes from small time to big shot as he is taken under the wing of Gordon Gecko (Michael Douglas), a Wall Street prime time player. This rags to riches tale is set on the coat tails of a stock market boom, and the fast paced, high price world of the international markets of the 80’s.
For a film that was made in 1987, it is amazing to see how well Wall Street has held up as film. Sure, it has it’s share of synthesizer music, and at one point, Charlie Sheen sports a cardigan that no man should be seen alive in, but all in all the film holds up. I guess that goes to show corruption on Wall Street is eternal. In fact as we see ourselves smack in the middle of one of the biggest recessions (if not depressions) of our time, it is both intriguing and inferiorating that we see corporate big wigs like Gecko toss our 401 K’s around like pocket change.
Of course the highlight of the movie is Douglas as Gecko, the perfect smooth talking, love to hate, genius in a pinstripe suit. Nearly poised as the devil himself, Gecko could sell a “crap Popsicle” to a woman in white gloves. (No, I did not mess that saying up- purely intentional ya’ll). In fact Douglas earned himself an Oscar for the role of Gecko and it’s not hard to see why. Gecko, love him or hate him will have you chiming two bit money catch phrases while wearing your favorite power tie in no time. Along side him, you have the young and naive Bud Fox, played by Charlie Sheen, who just doesn’t see the big picture. It’s the perfect teacher/student type bond that has no where to go but south.
Oddly enough as much as I enjoyed watching Wall Street, I found director Oliver Stone’s narrative to be trite and preachy, even for the time period when it was originally made. Stone seems to lecture the audience for the two hour run time rather than entertain. I found myself at moments thinking back and almost wanting to watch the film Boiler Room instead. Make no mistake, it’s been years since I have seen Boiler Room, and despite it’s throwbacks to Glengary Glen Ross and Wall Street, I still found enjoyment in it (perhaps I view it more fondly now than upon first viewing). Now I’m not touting Boiler Room as the superior film, in fact it’s probably far from Wall Street, and certainly not the next Citizen Kane, but from what I remember the film had similar plot lines and didn’t feel as over worked and force fed on the evils of big business; and Boiler Room seemed to do it with a Hollywood hipness at least at the time.
In the end, I was happy I took the time to watch Wall Street, and would even go as far as saying it’s worth a view. Douglas as Gecko alone is worth the viewing, as you get to watch a great actor bring to life one of the greatest anti-heroes the silver screen has seen in quite some time. In fact, it’s enough to make you want to watch Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps despite terrible reviews and a story line that can’t be much different than it’s predecessor. But why not get your Gecko fix on the original Wall Street this week and save Money Never Sleeps for a rental down the road.