(published in Newsday on 12/21/14)
After its release, the world was abuzz with the debauchery that was in The Wolf of Wall Street. Actors described the grueling filming of the mass sex scenes, the scanty wardrobes, and the strenuousness of it all. But I didn’t know that when I went.
With my mother.
On Christmas Day.
First, some background. I grew up in a house that only saw movies approved by the Diocese’s Tablet. In the days when television censors wouldn’t let I Dream of Jeannie show her belly button, my parents went one step further and wouldn’t let us watch Batman & Robin because Catwoman’s outfit was too suggestive. Books were banned. My parents never uttered a curse word in my presence. Get the (clean) picture?
So what movie do I take my mother to? The Wolf of Wall Street. On Christmas Day.
It was just Great Guy, my mother and me for Christmas, so the plan was to do a Jewish Christmas – Chinese food and a movie. Just us and hundreds and hundreds of others. Who said we’d be alone at Christmas?
The miracle of Christmas is that we found three seats together, about five rows from the screen, for an even better high-definition view of every naked inch of every actor’s body.
Have you seen The Wolf of Wall Street? Candles in the butt. Every pose in the Kama Sutra. After the opening sex scene, Great Guy leans over to my mother and says “I just want you to know I had nothing to do with this choice of movie.”
Every week I take my mother to a movie. It is really just expensive naptime. She starts by taking out her hearing aids saying the previews are too loud. “Is this the movie?” she asks during every advance preview. Then, as soon as the movie starts, she falls asleep. If she is roused, she says “I can’t understand this movie.” And on the way out, “That movie wasn’t good at all. I don’t know why the critics liked it.” Maybe because they actually saw the movie.
So here I am sitting in a movie that probably would have been X-rated back in her day. Squirming in the seat next to her. Hoping for a story line beyond all the sins that money can buy.
“This is pornography.”
“Take a nap, Mom.”
More sex and drugs.
“The day of our Lord’s birth, this is what I have to watch.”
“Take a nap, Mom.”
More drugs and sex.
“Can’t we leave?”
“We can’t climb over this entire row of people now. Shhh. Just close your eyes.”
“I can’t believe this.” She uttered so many times that I had to shush her so others could enjoy the pornography. Not that you needed to hear the dialogue anyway.
Over the years I’ve become so desensitized to sex and cursing in movies, but sitting next to my rosary-reciting mother, I felt like I had taken a five year old to see Deep Throat. If I had my wits about me, I would have taken her out of the movie and gone into another auditorium, but I just kept hoping beyond hope that the characters would get tired from all that sex, or hit menopause or something. Or that she would take a nap.
So my mother finally saw an entire movie.
She continues to sleep through every movie, every week. And finds them all boring. I tell her, Ma, I have to be careful to find movies that don’t have sex, gore, or loud special effects. “Let’s see the sex,” she tells me.
My mother. A late bloomer.