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January 2nd, 2014
06:04 PM ET

Backlash for 'The Wolf of Wall Street'

(CNN) - The new movie "The Wolf of Wall Street," which tells the story of real-life con-artist Jordan Belfort, has got some people so upset, they're calling for boycotts.

Actor Leonardo DiCaprio stars as the slick-talking Belfort, who runs a successful, but corrupt stockbroking firm. Throughout the film, viewers are constantly reminded of just how much fun Belfort and his cohorts had living the high life on the backs of their victims.

But not everyone is in on the joke. The daughter of one of the men involved in Belfort's scheme wrote an open letter to filmmaker Martin Scorsese and DiCaprio, accusing them of glorifying psychopathic behavior.

Some people are calling for moviegoers to boycott the film.

"This is something that's not going to go away if you don't talk about it," Scorsese said in a statement, responding to the criticism.

"If anyone watches this movie, at the end of "Wolf of Wall Street," they're going to see that we're not at all condoning this behavior. In fact we're saying that this is something that is in our very culture, and it needs to be looked at, and it needs to be talked about," DiCaprio told HitFix.com.

"Martin Scorsese's movies always push the envelope," TheWrap.com's Sharon Waxman told CNN's "The Lead with Jake Tapper."

"His movies are very extreme. They like to show extreme behavior. The difference here is it's not a criminal underworld of the mob that he's showing. It's the financial behavior on Wall Street and the margins of Wall Street that goes on, that's part of the daily lives of America," said Waxman.

Though the movie is set in the 1980s and 1990s, many Americans have recently suffered from the economic consequences of reckless Wall Street behavior mirrored in the movie.

"Emotions are pretty raw about it," said Waxman.

DiCaprio is also taking heat beyond the film for a video that shows him seemingly praising Belfort as a motivator.

"What separates Jordan's story from others like it is the brutal honesty in which he talks about the mistakes he's made in his life. I have been in his company many times, but there is nothing quite like Jordan's public speaking, and his ability to train and empower young entrepreneurs. Jordan stands as a shining example of the transformative qualities of ambition and hard work, and in that regard, he is
a true motivator," DiCaprio says in the video.

"We've had very angry comments on our site," said Waxman, who said readers are "incensed" about the video.

"There are people who are defending Scorsese saying if you expected something other than what you're getting which is lots of sex, lots of drugs, usually you get violence, but extreme behavior - and it's a movie," said Waxman.

"On the other hand, you do have people saying there's a lot of it, it's a three-hour movie so there's an excess of the excess, and also, the fact that it's not really what DiCaprio says there. There's not a lot of recognition of his behavior in the movie. He doesn't really judge his characters. That's one of the things that marks (Scorsese's) work," said Waxman.

For more of this interview, check out the video above.

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