Column:

Just watch the original 'Wall Street'

By Chase Koeneke | Oct. 1, 2010

Tags: Music

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In 1987, director Oliver Stone presented to the world a movie called “Wall Street,” a film in which Bud Fox (Charlie Sheen) sets his sights on making it big as a stock trader like his idol, Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas). After learning his idol is more about making shady insider dealings than making money honestly, Fox then helps to put Gekko behind bars. By all accounts, it wasn’t a bad picture; Douglas even took home an Oscar for his performance.

Here in 2010, Stone went back to his golden-egg-laying goose to bring us a sequel of sorts in “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps.” Unfortunately, Stone’s goose gave him a bronze egg instead.

What Stone has made is essentially a movie that not only puts his original work on a pedestal, but throws it under a bus as well.

On one hand, everything in “Money Never Sleeps” is practically a reference to the original. Many lines of dialogue are cut and pasted right into the new script. Inconsequential characters, such as an old real estate saleswoman, make inconsequential comebacks. But instead of feeling like a homage, the references feel more like a shameless plugs. Hell, even the title “Money Never Sleeps” is ripped straight from the 1987 script.

On the other hand, “Money Never Sleeps” seems to try its best to undermine any and all of the happenings from the first movie. Even the whole reason Gekko (still well-played by Michael Douglas) is put behind bars -- Bud Fox assisting the Feds -- has been swept to the side. Instead, the crime is attributed to a new villain who is not mentioned once in the original film.

What's even worse are the concepts presented in “Money Never Sleeps.” It’s as if Stone focus-tested this thing into the ground, and he tried to rip every semi-current headline he could find and jam it into his picture.

I can hear it now:

Stone: “What’re people talking about today that we can capitalize on?”

Researcher: “Alternative energy and government bailouts are big topics.”

Stone: “Perfect. We’ll do both. And let’s throw in some unnecessary computer-generated graphics. People eat that up.”

In all fairness, “Money Never Sleeps” is not entirely a bad movie. All the actors put forth a pretty decent performance (even Shia LaBeouf, though my personal opinion is that he should be perpetually on “Even Stevens”), and it does make you think about the instability of money and how easily it can be made or lost. But for every one thing the film does right, it seems it does at least two things wrong, and that’s usually a bad sign.

If the trailers for “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps” looked good to you – I’ll admit, they looked pretty good to me – I’d strongly urge you to watch the original instead. It does everything its sequel does, but better, more succinctly and much less ridiculously.

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