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Boogie Nights (1997)

  Directed by: Paul Thomas Anderson
Written by: Paul Thomas Anderson
Starring: Don Cheadle, Heather Graham, Luis Guzmán, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Julianne Moore, John C. Reilly, Burt Reynolds, Mark Wahlberg
Links: Boogie Nights on the IMDb, Buy on Video, Buy the Soundtrack, Buy on DVD
Genre: Drama

This movie gets: 9.50 (2 ratings)
nofreelist.com Ranking: Ranked equal 6th of 187 movies (2 ratings minimum; see full chart)

Boogie Nights (1997) is also mentioned in em_fiction's review of Magnolia (1999), mino's review of Punch-Drunk Love (2002), em_fiction's review of Punch-Drunk Love (2002), pearly's review of Wonderland (2003) and em_fiction's review of Wonderland (2003).

""Dad, I promise you, I will NEVER get tired of this!"" - a review by andy-j

One night at a local nightclub, Jack Horner (Burt Reynolds), an "exotic films" director, spots young Eddie Adams (Mark Wahlberg) working in the kitchen and immediately knows he's stumbled across gold. Adams doesn't need much convincing to leave his screwed-up family life for the life of a pornography star, especially when the audition consists of having sex with the absolutely gorgeous RollerGirl (Heather Graham). And so, Eddie Adams becomes Dirk Diggler, and his life becomes one big party. And the fun begins!

We are introduced to the tight little family of porn film cast and crew. There's Buck (Don Cheadle), the black stud whose real love lies in hi-fi sales. There's Little Bill (William H. Macy), whose wife is making no secret of cheating on him. There's Reed Rothchild (John C. Reilly), Dirk's sidekick, who shows off in front of Dirk because he's so in awe of him. Amber (Julianne Moore), who is Jack's lover, fights to regain custody of her child, while developing a complex mother-child relationship with the young stars. And there's Scotty the sound guy (Philip Seymour Hoffman), who is desperately in love with Dirk. And of course there is Dirk. We watch his star rise, his ego inflate and his fall from grace. Phew! And that's just the beginning! Boogie Nights is a HUGE movie in every sense of the word.

HUGE! It has a massive cast brimming with some amazing talent. It runs for over three hours and its story spans two decades. It has an absolutely amazing soundtrack. It gives us multiple fascinating plot threads to follow, all brilliantly tied in with each other. Paul Thomas Anderson, the writer and director, has created a masterpiece. It is amazingly well written, with wonderfully scripted characters that we really care about. It is laced with a dark streak of humour - a great sense of tongue-in-cheek fun throughout the whole movie. It deftly moves from the giddy air-headedness fun to dark, more serious scenes, to totally tense and frightening moments. But the whole thing is an absolute blast. I had a huge smile on my face throughout the whole thing. I really cannot describe the brilliance at work here. All I know is that it was written with so much attention to detail and so much love that I adore it. Despite its seedy subject matter, the film just bursts with sunshine, and it passes no judgement on its characters, even though it very easily could. It just sits back and does the documentary thing, lets these people go through their lives, occasionally mocking them in a light-hearted way, and leaves it up to us to make our own conclusions.

This is truly a film that allows Burt Reynolds to really show why he was such a star in the 70s and 80s. He plays his part perfectly and absolutely commands every scene he is in. Boogie Nights was his comeback film. Casting him was a master-stroke. Julianne Moore is absolutely amazing. Amber Waves is a tragic shell, and Moore presents the character with great sensitivity and understanding. Many of the rest of the cast have the opportunity to have a little bit more fun with their characters, subtly playing up their stupidity - John C. Reilly and Don Cheadle are two big standouts. And where would Boogie Nights be without Mark Wahlberg? He is fantastic, fleshing out his character wonderfully and gently changing Dirk's personality throughout the film. It's the perfect role for him, and it's very hard to imagine anyone else playing the part. In short, the cast is amazing. There isn't a single weak performance.

Boogie Nights is just film perfection. It delivers in every sense. Riveting and engaging script, hilarious subject matter, truly memorable moments, characters that you really care about, fantastically acted, and a soundtrack that is not only great but is also used to great effect. I can't say enough good things about Boogie Nights. It's definitely in my top 5. I am in awe, Paul Thomas Anderson. In awe!

andy-j gives this movie 10 out of 10.
Review created on Sat 22 Jan 2005

"Bravo" - a review by pearly

If there's one thing that Paul Thomas Anderson does well, it's gathering together fantastic ensemble casts for his films. Actually, that should be "If there's a number of great things he does well, then this is one of them", because he is that kind of director. And Boogie Nights, although not his first film, was the one which showed exactly what he could do, and made the introductions to so many of the wonderful actors which he would re-cast again and again, and always show in a terrific light; people like Philip Seymour Hoffman and Luis Guzmán.

Boogie Nights is a film that is apparently based on another film which Anderson made at the age of 17 or 18, a little thing called The Dirk Diggler Story (1988). For Boogie Nights, he took this character of Dirk Diggler, and ramped it up. Diggler (Mark Wahlberg) begins the movie as a teenager clearing dishes at a local disco in the late 70s, but when he meets up with Jack Horner (Burt Reynolds), a porno director, his life takes a turn. Diggler teams up with Reed Rothchild (John C. Reilly), a more experienced star, and his large appendage assures him success, until he begins to dabble in drugs, and is no longer the new, fresh face on the scene.

Set in that time of tremendous style, the 70s, and then moving into the 80s, Anderson has given himself a lot to work with, visuals-wise. From the opening shots of the disco run by the fantastically cast Luis Guzmán, then back to the love-pad of Horner, and graduating to a welcome to the 80s party, where each of the characters, already with their own sense of style, change their bellbottom pants to fluorescent headbands, and the like. The whole film is like a stylised version of these times, and it all looks fabulous. This atmosphere adds to the crazy world that these characters are living in, making the whole thing tremendously fun to watch.

I have eluded to the fabulousness of the cast, but let's go into it in more detail. First, there's Wahlberg. Wahlberg's ascent to popular actor was quite dubious, it must be said, but in Boogie Nights, he proves that he's at least decent, possibly better. However, he is outshone by most of the other leads: Hoffman is brilliant as always as Scotty "I'm a fucking idiot" J., and Reilly is perfect in what is quite an unusual role for him, that of an aging porn star, constantly trying to one-up his younger protégé. Guzmán is hilarious; the perfect opposite to the tragic figure portrayed by William H. Macy. And then there are the girls. Heather Graham plays Rollergirl, who is one of the most memorable characters in the whole film, but she is outdone by the always wonderful Julianne Moore, who plays Horner's love interest, but is definitely a character in her own right.

Boogie Nights is a wonderfully written film which moves in directions you sometimes don't expect, and adds depth to characters that you don't expect depth from. It is made up of great characterisation, stylish imagery, superb acting, and fun, fun, fun. On seeing it for the first time, I added Anderson straight into my "directors whose films I will go out of my way to see" list, and I haven't looked back.

pearly gives this movie 9 out of 10.
Review created on Mon 26 Jul 2004

Movie review statistics

Number of reviews: 2
Average rating: 9.50
Lowest rating: 9 (by pearly)
Highest rating: 10 (by andy-j)
 
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