Liz Tells Frank What Happened In “Wall Street”

Dear Frank,

You know, for over twenty years I’d experienced absolutely no interest whatsoever in watching the Oliver Stone film Wall Street — until, of course, you asked me to tell you what happened in it. I don’t know why I was so disinterested; perhaps my vague phobia of shoulder pads was a factor. But let me just say that having now seen it, I don’t really feel like I was missing out on anything.

This is a movie about baby-faced Charlie Sheen and how he wants to have lots of money because of his blue collar roots. Right now, he’s working the phones at a brokerage on (you bet) Wall Street, but he has big-time ambitions to play with the big boys — and the biggest boy appears to be Gordon Gekko, a deal-maker and stock-buyer and business duder.

Normally, Frank, you know I like to forgo character names and instead use the name of the actor playing them, or a character name from an actor’s IMDB past. But Gordon Gekko is a kick-ass character name, and I have decided to honor it by actually using it.

Charlie’s a hard worker — you can tell, because of the scene where he fucks this random naked chick (who we only see from the neck down, and may have Brazilian roots, if you know what I’m saying, oh you know what I’m saying) and he ignores her as she walks out of the bedroom because he has some high-tech late-night computer work to do. Like a boss.

But his big chance to impress Gekko comes thanks of his dad, played by President Bartlet (what a striking family resemblance! Such good casting there!), who, prior to serving two terms as the leader of the free world, apparently worked as a union leader for an airline crew.

Bartlet tips Charlie off on some exciting airplane news, and Charlie goes to Gekko with it — Gekko’s not too impressed, because even sans Google he’s able to find out that Charlie’s dad is an airplane union guy, but he still makes the deal.

And because he can tell how desperate Charlie is, he starts throwing him a few bones — a free meatloaf, a free suit, a free hooker date. The rich really are more classy than the rest of us.

Eventually, Gekko gives Charlie a chance to prove himself — which in this case means stalking Terence Stamp around the city and breaking into various buildings by pretending to be a part of the maintenance crew in order to gather information (I didn’t really follow what was going on here, mostly because I find plot points about stock prices to be uninspiring).

Gekko also invites Charlie to a party at his Hamptons house; this party is both simultaneously awesome and stupid, because there we get to meet Gekko’s INCREDIBLY AWESOME 1980S ROBOT BUTLER…

But we also meet Daryl Hannah. Sigh.

Here is, apparently, how to give Oliver Stone a hard-on — plug your nose and then talk like a stupid person. Both Sean Young (Gekko’s largely extraneous wife) and Daryl Hannah are congested bimbos to some degree, but it’s Daryl Hannah who especially sounds like a head cold from the inside.

At no point does Charlie show any interest in Daryl as a human being; he meets her at the party, gets told that she’s an expensive toy, and immediately decides that she is the only toy in the toy store for him, thus escalating his determination to be a rich motherfucker. This would be less of an issue if her character was more than a useless bimbo with atrocious design taste and no qualms about occasionally sleeping with Gekko… What I’m saying is that it’s an issue.

(I know, right, an Oliver Stone movie has gross attitudes towards women? So weird, how that happened.)

So Charlie’s all high-powered and doing business and dragging his lawyer buddy James Spader (who’s at an all-time low level of creepy, I gotta say) into potentially illegal doings. He’s also totally raking it in, because he now has a million fancy cooking gadgets for making pasta and sushi. That’s what screenwriting schools call VISUAL STORYTELLING.

High-stakes business dealings, (theoretically) sexy girlfriend, new fancy apartment to have weirdly-staged backlit sex scenes in… I WONDER IF SOMETHING’S GOING TO GO WRONG?

Oh, look at that, Frank! Something goes wrong. After Gordon Gekko gives his kick-ass “Greed is Good” speech to a bunch of investors or abstinence widows or something (you can tell how much of a shit I gave about the plot of this movie, can’t you?), things heat up with the airline that President Bartlet works for. Specifically, Gekko decides to take it over and break it up into little pieces, thus ruining the lives of Good Union Men but making all the suits, including Charlie, a shit-ton of money.

Charlie suddenly has some morality driven back into him — Bartlet has a little bit of a heart attack over this news, which was probably a factor — and after eating half a pizza’s worth of his feelings, decides to double-cross Gekko with some fancy business moves. (Daryl walks out on him around this point. She is not missed in any way.)

Bull! Bear! Buy! Sell! Shouting! That is what happens, and Charlie saves the airline and is once again a hero of the people!

Gekko, in revenge, turns Charlie in to the SEC. Charlie sobs as the cops lead him out of the office. Whoops! But if Charlie’s going to prison, he’s taking Gekko with him, made possible thanks to a weird scene in the middle of a rainy golf course (just the kind of place I like to go when I’m settling my business affairs). Gekko shouts about how Charlie betrayed him, Charlie doesn’t shout about how he’s wearing a wire, and now the SEC has evidence on both of them! Um, hooray?

The movie ends with President Bartlet (it was really barely a heart attack) driving Charlie to the courthouse, where he’s going to face his fate and go to jail. Same thing, we presume, happens to Gordon Gekko, except that when he goes to jail he brings a cell phone with him. THE END. Thank fucking god.

I mean, this movie isn’t worthless necessarily; as a cultural artifact, I suppose, it has value. And Michael Douglas is really fucking good in it. But, as much as I love Sally Sparrow, there really really really didn’t need to be a sequel.


About Liz Shannon Miller

Liz Shannon Miller is a Los Angeles-based writer and editor, and has been talking about television on the Internet since the very beginnings of the Internet. She is currently Senior TV Editor at Collider, and her work has also been published by the New York Times, Vulture, Variety, the AV Club, the Hollywood Reporter, IGN, The Verge, and Thought Catalog. She is also a produced playwright, a host of podcasts, and a repository of "X-Files" trivia.

Posted on November 15, 2010, in All the Spoilers, Movies and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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