Boogie Nights (1997)

November 19, 2011 By Mike B
Movie Review

What Worked?

The porn industry is never really appreciated beyond the satisfaction they provide by helping millions have a good time with themselves and some tissue. Boogie Nights delves deeper as it’s a storm of a story about a porn production company in the 70s and 80s, following the lives of several colorful characters that revolve around a well hung leading man named Dirk Diggler. Paul Thomas Anderson directs this sex-crazed, drug infused, touching story of the rise and fall of  a pornography film company.

Anderson is a DJ of a film director, mixing in exuberant colors, beautiful people, taboo subjects and so on into a concoction that doesn’t quit entertaining, expanding and challenging the viewers. The camera is constantly moving, weaving seamlessly in and out of the lives of all the colorful characters. The editing is energetic, but the times Anderson pulls back, especially in his continuous shots, he really places you into the lives of the people in this porn industry. Anderson’s script is also a wonder, juggling multiple characters with ease and shaping most of them to be fully-realized characters.

There are so many amazing characters in this film, but there are few that shine a little brighter than the rest. Let’s start with Burt Reynolds playing Jack Horner, the mastermind director of the porn production group. Reynolds, as Horner, is passionate about his craft and is committed to sticking with film over videotape as he wants to make porn film about something deeper than sex: porn with a gripping story. Horner’s transition from film to videotape is sobering, as he gives up on his initial vision. Julianne Moore, as Amber Heards, is Horner’s right hand woman and surrogate mother to all, as she is unable to see her own child due to her drug problem. Moore is a beautiful mess, as we feel her agony and depression, and realize her dark destiny.

Then there’s Mark Whalberg playing Dirk Diggler, the boy with a giant talent in between his legs. Whalberg transitions from a naive, yet kind, rookie porn-actor to a drugged out egotistical porn star throughout the course of the film. This is still probably Whalberg’s best performance to date, as he bears all of his anxiety, joy and arrogance on-screen in this rise-and-fall role.

Ultimately, Boogies Nights is a wild ride that captures the essence of the 70s while it breathes life into the cardboard cut-out characters of porn, helping the audience see that relativity is  a matter of perspective.  Paul Thomas Anderson helps us find a sympathetic eye for these sexual extremists that we’d normally shrug away as trash. Boogie Nights is raw sex on a golden platter that’s precisely dissected for the audience to eat up. Simply put, the film is an orgasmic cinema experience.

Potential Drawbacks:

This movie will offend those without an open-mind, as it is heavy on sex and drugs. In addition, the film is quite long, although it moves at a brisk pace, so those without the patience should watch the film in the right mood if they watch it at all.

The film may also feel “all over the place” as it juggles quite a few characters.

Film Recommendations:

Pulp Fiction

Constructive debates are welcome, but personal attacks are not. If you feel a comment is offensive or considered spam, please feel free to flag it.

Latest Reviews

  • Lock starring Tom Hardy
  • Locke

    One of the best places to have time to yourself and really think about your life is in your car;...

    Read Review >>
  • Expendables 3 Once again, Sylvester Stallone and company are back to spill blood and yell out manly things. Expendables 3 continues the old school action of the...
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Back in the 90s, the turtles in a half shell hit the big screen with three live action movies that were ridiculously fun to watch for kids. Michael...
  • Guardians of the Galaxy We've ventured off into space before, but we've never done it with such a likable bunch as Star Lord, Groot, Gamora, Drax, and Rocket. James Gunn's...
  • See more reviews »