Boogie Nights (1997) / Drama
MPAA Rated: R for strong sex scenes with explicit dialogue, nudity, drug use, language and violence
Running Time: 155 min.
Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Burt Reynolds, Julianne Moore, Don Cheadle, Heather Graham
Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
Screenplay: Paul Thomas Anderson
Review published February 19, 2000
Although Boogie Nights isn't his first film, this is Paul Thomas Anderson's (Punch-Drunk Love, Magnolia) breakthrough and the first exposure many of us may have to his fine work. As evidenced within the film and also in his previous outing, Hard Eight, Anderson has a knack for characterizations and in using camera movement and music to create sound so well, it could be said that he out-Scorsese's Scorsese. While not everyone will find the film to their liking, and some may find it overlong or unfocused, there's no denying the film is gutsy and has moments of undeniable brilliance, and pays off big dividends as the story unfolds.
Mark Wahlberg (The Big Hit, Three Kings) plays Eddie Adams, a teenage Reseda busboy who is discovered by Jack Horner (Reynolds, Citizen Ruth), a major director in the porn film industry. Eddie has the "gift" of being well-endowed with the stamina to match. Under his new moniker of Dirk Diggler he rises to the top of the porn industry. What goes up, must come down...
Boogie Nights is a unique treat, chock-full of profound moments, sparkling dialogue, phenomenal direction and terrific performances. Paul Thomas Anderson demonstrates why he deserves to be thought of as one of the best directors working in Hollywood today with his tour-de-force style. Although Burt initially had written off the film as 'crap', this may be Burt Reynolds' best performance in a movie to date, and Julianne Moore (The Lost World, Nine Months) definitely delivers the best performance of the movie as the "mother" figure for the budding porn stars who is also struggling to get custody of her own son back.
As brilliant as I find the film in its parts, as a whole I can't completely rave, as the film does falter a bit due to a lack of focus and there are some weak scenes, especially as the film nears the ending, which should have been edited out of the rather long film to make sure the storyline stays tight.
However, all of this seems a minor quibble for superior entertainment. Boogie Nights contains more great characters and scenes than most movies deliver nowadays, and definitely is worth watching for no other reason than to view one of Hollywood's major filmmaking talents in action.
©2000 Vince Leo