Box art for Wall Street

Wall Street


An ambitious young broker (Charlie Sheen) is lured into the illegal, lucrative world of corporate espionage when he is seduced by the power, status and financial wizardry of Wall Street legend Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas.

Rotten Tomatoes® scores

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  • Audience Score

common sense

ON for kids age 17
1 out of 5
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
2 out of 5
4 out of 5
Positive messages
3 out of 5
Positive role models
1 out of 5
4 out of 5
1 out of 5

Timeless cautionary tale of excess has other mature themes.

what parents need to know

Parents need to know that this popular 1980s-era tale of greed and corruption is filled with strong language and sexual references, as well as a condescending attitude toward women. Characters smoke and drink, but not to excess. The main character eventually comes around and realizes what's really important in life: his relationships.

what families can talk about

  • Families can talk about greed. Is it good? Is it possible for businesses to work without being greedy?
  • Why is the Gordon Gekko character the most seductive and the most interesting? How do we come to see him for the first time? What does he represent?
  • Was Bud really happy when he was rich and working for Gordon? Can money and objects buy happiness for a short while? For the long haul?
  • What other media is a commentary on excess and greed? Is it still glorified? Expand your thinking to outlets that didn't exist in the '80s like Reality TV (My Super Sweet 16, for example).

movie reviews from Rotten Tomatoes®

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  • Audience


Audience Reviews

3 stars

Decade-defining drama, that not only captures the 80's really well, but also the fundamentally dark sides of greed, capitalism and personal ambition. Charlie Sheen and Michael Douglas are both on top of their game, and I'm not surprised that the latter of them received an Oscar for his performance. Also worthy of mentioning is the well-crafted screenplay. Sharp and witty dialogue, aligned with an interesting turn of events, makes this one of the all-time finest achievements by director Oliver Stone. It's doubtful the recently released sequel matches all that, but after having seen the original in its full length now (I had only seen bits and pieces of it before), I sure am looking forward to checking it out.

- CloudStrife84, Friday, November 12, 2010

4 stars

Junior stockbroker is obsessed with forming a partnership with a ruthless Wall Street player, and learns a thing or two in the process. Classic urban drama perfectly captures the zeitgeist of 1980s excess. Director Oliver Stone's intelligent script wisely simplifies stock market lingo in a way anyone can understand and highlights a fascinating relationship between Bud Fox and his business idol, Gordon Gekko . Michael Douglas' portrayal of the corporate raider is so charismatic, something unexpected happens. He becomes a villain you admire as well as despise. It's a masterful performance and one that rightly earned him the Oscar for Best Actor. He's ably supported by star Charlie Sheen, a nave go getter who gets caught up in the dizzying frenzy of buying and selling corporations to make a profit. His scenes with his father, Carl, fittingly played by his real-life father Martin Sheen, are also particularly affecting.

- hobster1, Tuesday, October 19, 2010

4 stars

"The main thing about money, Bud, is that it makes you do things you don't want to do." Filmmaker Oliver Stone's name has become synonymous with the word "controversial". Love or hate his movies, though, there is no denying the allure to his projects, not to mention the superior craftsmanship and the keen sense of storytelling that ensures each film he creates is worth seeing. 1987's Wall Street is among Stone's most famous works of the '80s, and it endures so strongly in the minds of movie-goers primarily due to the legendary "Greed is good" speech that's delivered by Michael Douglas as Gordon Gekko in the film. It's easy to understand why people have held onto this specific sound-bite for so long, as it symbolised the American financial community during the '80s and remains relevant more than 20 years later. In addition to this speech, Wall Street benefits from razor-sharp dialogue, top-notch performances, and an interesting story. The protagonist here is young, low-level stockbroker Bud Fox (Sheen) who works at a trading firm but aspires to make it to the big time and be more than an invisible office drone. When Bud happens upon some insider information gleaned through a conversation with his father, he passes it onto his powerful idol Gordon Gekko (Douglas) during a once-in-a-lifetime meeting. Impressed, Gekko accepts Bud into his private circle, and Bud finds himself in the fast lane with the possibility of real wealth and power dangling in front of him. He begins to see Gekko's world from the inside, and decides to plunge ahead despite knowing that Gekko has built his empire on illegal insider trading and scare tactics. Interestingly, Bud Fox is not unlike the role Charlie Sheen played in Oliver Stone's Platoon; a determined, fresh-faced, inexperienced, unsure individual who's sucked into a devastating world that wrestles his soul and torments his spirit. Wall Street is a classic tale of evil manipulating good. In a nutshell, it's a dramatised fictional tale of an era where money was king and everyone was scrambling to get to the top; a time where morals, hard work, integrity, honesty and any semblance of right and wrong was often surrendered to the power of wealth and the appeal of stature. It's not that Wall Street scolds the system - it functions as more of a criticism of the people who would manipulate the system and cheat their way to the top. Oliver Stone's script revels in the unforgiving examination of the high life and the look at the countless hours of work and manipulation behind it. This is balanced, however, by the picture's final act in which the choice between right and wrong is shown to have severe and lasting consequences on both sides of the ledger. In preparation for Wall Street, Oliver Stone did everything he could to ensure he got all of the details right. Due to growing up around his father's Wall Street office, he was already knowledgeable about the world of buying and selling stock. He additionally conducted lots of research through spending time with brokers from all areas of the business. During shooting, Stone elected to film in real office buildings rather than sets, and he hired former Salomon Brothers partner Kenneth Lipper as technical advisor. The final product is an accurate, penetrating portrayal of Wall Street. Unfortunately, this also means that it's easy to feel lost if you are unfamiliar with the language and rules of the business. Wall Street is a thoroughly verbose picture, and the pacing is consequently uneven, leading to dead spots. Nevertheless, Stone's handling of the material is fairly top-notch, resulting in a technically sound and thematically engaging picture aimed at audiences who have the patience to appreciate fine craftsmanship such as this. Additionally, what Wall Street lacks in flow (it is somewhat stiff at times) it makes up for in the performances courtesy of the exemplary ensemble cast. Gekko, as portrayed by Michael Douglas in the defining role of his acting career, is a brilliant antagonist. He is the very embodiment of amorality; a man who acquires wealth because it's how he keeps score, not because he needs it. He is driven to win at all costs, and his charisma shields his unethical disposition. Gekko even quotes Sun Tzu, and has made The Art of War his mantra by which he navigates life and the financial markets. Douglas is expectedly brilliant in the part; his performance is a powerhouse of controlled aggression and vindictive cunning, and Douglas executed the role with absolute conviction. As a result of his performance, Douglas earned the Best Actor Oscar. However, despite Douglas walking away with all the accolades, Gekko is more of a supporting character - Wall Street is the story of Bud Fox. Fortunately, Charlie Sheen performed admirably here. The supporting cast, meanwhile, is comprised of a cornucopia of top-notch actors. There's Martin Sheen who's brilliant in the role of Bud's father (thus, Martin Sheen was playing opposite his real son), John C. McGinley who's equally impressive as Bud's co-worker, and an excellent Terence Stamp as Gekko's rival. Darryl Hannah is the only weak spot - she suffocates the film with an uninspired, dreary performance. Ironically, everyone told Stone to fire Hannah from the movie, but he didn't listen and subsequently regretted his decision. The most remarkable accomplishment of Wall Street was that it achieved theatrical distribution at an ideal time. Stone wrote the screenplay in 1986, and filming occurred from late '86 to early '87. Meanwhile, there was a massive run-up of the stock market. By the time the stock market crashed and Black Monday arrived, the film was in the can and awaiting its December delivery. While the mechanics of stock trading depicted in Wall Street are outdated, the essence of what goes on is the same, and the frantic nature of trading is no less fascinating. Although best known for the "Greed is good" speech or as another feather in Olive Stone's cap, Wall Street is an absorbing movie about the plight of the soul in the unforgiving atmosphere of big business and bigger money. Eventually Oliver Stone produced a sequel in the form of 2010's Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps.

- PvtCaboose91, Monday, October 18, 2010