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Popcorn & Prejudice: A Movie Blog

Seattle Times writer Moira Macdonald muses on moviegoing. Email Moira: mmacdonald@seattletimes.com.

January 13, 2010 at 10:44 AM

“Wall Street,” now and then

So here’s an interesting thought: What if everybody who wanted to make a movie sequel had to wait 20 years? I kind of like this idea, particularly when you think about all the awful sequels that wouldn’t have gotten made under this rule. (OK, James Bond could be an exception. And all the “Thin Man” movies.) Anyway, this is on my mind because there’s a “Wall Street” sequel coming up in April (“Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps,” a subtitle you’ll recognize as a line spoken by Michael Douglas in the original movie). The original “Wall Street,” directed by Oliver Stone, came out in 1987, and it dawned on me the other day that I’d never seen it (now how did that happen?), so last night I watched it on the on-demand cable. This morning I have a strange urge to wear shoulder pads. Go figure.
Despite the ’80s immersion (Charlie Sheen’s apartment is an hilarious mishmash of every decorating cliche of the decade), “Wall Street” is an enjoyable two hours, particularly when Douglas is on screen. There’s nothing subtle about this movie — note how Douglas’ lizardlike character has the last name of Gekko, and how Stone likes to have lights dim and storm clouds rage whenever he’s on screen — but it’s an engaging portrait of a particular time, in which a young man (Sheen) sells his soul to a high-finance devil but ultimately gets out alive. Douglas, his hair slicked back like an expensive cape for his head, is wonderfully wicked; crooning his oily lines (“Greed is good” became a catchphrase for the decade) like they’re poetry.
He’ll be, as I understand it, the only returning character for “Wall Street 2,” in which Gekko has recently emerged from a long prison sentence. Has he reformed? I hope not.

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