We’ll get to Michael Douglas’ legendary Gordon Gekko in a few moments, but first I want to talk about the film’s real lead, Charlie Sheen. Turning his back on film the past few years to waste away on a CBS sitcom (and in the occasional tabloid when a domestic dispute arises), it’s easy to forget that Charlie Sheen was once a pretty solid actor. He may never have been award-worthy, but he was never Razzie-worthy either- you could always count on him to get the job done. Wall Street features Sheen at his most vulnerable and naïve (and eventually his most arrogant), and he pulls it all off pretty well. The real treat here is getting to see him act with his brilliant father, Martin, who plays- you guessed it- Charlie’s dad! You can feel the tough love between the two, and it makes for a more powerful film.
Douglas of course is brilliant in the role that cemented his place in Hollywood lore and won him an Oscar. One could call him the white-collar Scarface, in his ability to play the bad guy you’re surprised to find yourself envying. When Douglas famously delivers his “greed is good” speech, you can’t help but buy into it, and that’s what makes Gekko such a legend. Only the famously miscast Daryl Hannah comes off poorly here as Charlie Sheen’s love interest. To be fair, there wasn’t a whole lot for her to do with the part.
Much of the credit should go to Oliver Stone for his smart, serious-yet-fun script and the wonderful moral battle he takes the audience on. You’ll find yourself rooting for the working class Martin Sheen and hoping Bud Fox comes around, but I dare you to tell me you wouldn’t be equally susceptible to Gekko's seductive pitch.
If there are flaws here, it could be in the excessively stock-market heavy lingo spouted a mile a minute by most of the characters. Still, while you may not understand what the heck Gekko and Fox are talking about, you gotta appreciate Stone not dumbing down the material for the audience, opting instead for realism. Whether the plot is quite as realistic may be debatable, but who cares? That’s not why we go to the movies.
Wall Street Fact Exchange - This is not a trivia track on the movie so much as a trivia track on LIFE. Seriously, a Frank Sinatra song plays over the opening credits of this film, and you get about 3 minutes worth of trivia on the bottom of the screen about where Frank was born, who originally sang the song, etc. There are some interesting tidbits about the movie and stock facts along the way too, but if you plan to watch this movie at all, it’s impossible to read the trivia and keep up with the lightning-fast dialogue at the same time.
Fox Movie Channel Presents: Fox Legacy (12:21) - Hosted by Tom Rothman, this starts out as a tribute to the brilliance of the original film, before not-so-slyly morphing into a promotional tool for the upcoming sequel.
Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps - A Conversation (1:46) - This quickie doesn’t try to hide what it is. Stone, Douglas, Brolin, Labeouf and Mulligan sit on a couch and quickly chat amongst one another about the upcoming sequel, which I’m starting to realize was the sole purpose of re-releasing this DVD.