Leonardo DiCaprio shouts out at least a couple of the purported 544 f-words dropped in "The Wolf of Wall Street." Credit: Paramount Pictures
It’s official: Someone with true drive, attention to detail and a spare three hours ticked off the number of times someone, anyone — including characters buried in the back of the screen and/or the soundtrack — uses the f-word in “The Wolf of Wall Street.” The number? 544. Applaud, you cretins! Genuflect before your new master of cinematic f-bomb-deploying!
Look, that’s impressive. On the Wikipedia page of movies that sling the most f-word, the Leonardo DiCaprio vehicle's f— count beats such close, heroically profane contenders as “Summer of Sam,” the Paul Walker-starring "Running Scared" and other, just not-as-cussy Martin Scorsese pictures “Casino” and “Goodfellas.” (This page, as with anything Wikipedia, may not be wholly reliable. Right now "The Wolf of Wall Street" f-count stands at only 506 — 38 less than the aforementioned piece's claim. That article also says that the 2008 indie comedy "Gutterballs" claims to have more than 600 of the puppies.)
A couple things, though: It’s not the No. 1 film ever with the most f-words; it’s just the winning fiction film. The absolute movie winner, by almost double the amount, is the 2005 documentary “F—,” whose subject is no less than the f-word throughout history and in culture. That has an astonishing (albeit simply apropos) 857 f-words, though none of them are dropped by talking heads Michael Medved or Miss Manners.
Also worth noting is “Wolf of Wall Street” doesn’t win the much coveted FPM (“f—s per minute”) category. That again goes to “F—.” But four more films have even higher FPMs than the three-hour “WoWS” (which incidentally has a truly stunning 3.03). “Summer of Sam” has a scorching 435 “f—”s in an elephantine 142 minutes, for an FPM of 3.06. “Alpha Dog” crams 367 into 118 minutes for an FPM of 3.11. The otherwise forgotten 1997 British crime comedy “Twin Town,” starring Rhys Ifans and his brother Llyr, has 318 in 99 minutes, giving it an FPM score of 3.21.
These are all awe-inspiring, but the winner of the FPMs goes to a film worth knowing for reasons beyond its cussing. That film is 1997’s “Nil By Mouth,” the only picture to date directed by the actor Gary Oldman, and one of the first films to break through the excellent Ray Winstone (who pops up in Scorsese’s “The Departed,” the movie with the 28th most f-words). A brutal kitchen sink drama about marital abuse and hot tempers, it has 428 “f—” in a mere 128 minutes for an FPM of [drum roll] 3.34. Huzzah!
It’s also worth noting that, as with anything, it’s not quantity that matters, but quality. To that we will aver that the film with the greatest swearing is a film that doesn’t even appear on that Wikipedia list: the British war satire “In the Loop.” Apart from spreading the love to most other swear words, it uses them creatively, with the characters — chief among them terrifying spin doctor Malcolm Tucker (Peter Capaldi), but also his arguably even more terrifying underling Jamie MacDonald (Paul Higgins) — using them like blunt weapons, each person trying to one-up each other not only in frequency but innovation. In fact, with Capaldi as the new star of “Doctor Who,” we can say the show won’t be complete conversing with a race of cheaply designed aliens a la this very, awesomely NSFW clip from the film's parent show, "The Thick of It."
This is, incidentally, not to take anything away from “The Wolf of Wall Street,” which upon a second viewing we consider either the second or third best film of 2013. It's not supposed to be about quality. Quantity is, in this case, key. Like the sex and drugs (and occasional rock ‘n’ roll) in the film, the “f—”s are meant to underline (and italicize, then bold) the excess of the financial world it’s skewering, making what we’re watching comically unpleasant but daring us to find it appealing, even though we know in our hearts it’s wrong (but allow these f—ers to persist anyway).
One last thing: We’re not sure if this is the winner, but the “Uncle F—a” number from “South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut” may win the FPM for most “f—”s in a limited amount of time: 27 in a minute. (Thanks to our friend Victor Morton for doing the legwork on this one.) Out hat is f—ing off.
OK, we lied. Here’s ONE more thing: Someone broke down the f-count on “Deadwood,” and the numbers are truly shocking. (Thanks to film writer Sean Burns for that one.)