Browse all reviews by letter     A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z 0 - 9

USA 1997
Directed by
Paul Thomas Anderson
155 minutes
Rated MA

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
4 stars

Boogie Nights

Set initially in the late 1970s, a time when disco and Deep Throat were taking the world by storm, Boogie Nights is a darkly amusing film with a spot-on retro production design and a first-rate cast (some of whom were carry-overs from Anderson's debut film from the previous year Hard Eight) who embody a motley crew of dodgy "businessman" and dead-beats in the LA-based “adult entertainment” industry as, thanks to home video, it graduates from X-rated flea-pits to its heyday in the 1980s.

In his breakout role Mark Wahlberg (who was still trying to throw off the legacy of his incarnation as boxer short wearing rapper, Marky Mark) plays Eddie Adams aka Dirk Diggler, a young man endowed with one special talent – a John Holmes-proportioned schlong.

Recruited by movie producer/director, Jack Horner (Burt Reynolds), who aspires to make a quality porno, Eddie gets caught up in the vortex of the sex industry and a group of dysfunctionals including Jack’s porno-starlet girlfriend, Amber Waves (Julianne Moore), who is trying to get custody of her young son; Rollergirl (Heather Graham) who drops out of high school to be in Jack’s movies; Buck Swope (Don Cheadle), a porno star with a fixation with cowboy fashion and whose dream is to run his own hi-fi equipment store; Reed Rothchild (John C. Reilly) another porno performer who want to be a magician; Little Bill (William H. Macy), Jack’s line producer who is constantly being humiliated by his nympho wife (real life porn star Nina Hartley) and Scotty J.(Philip Seymour Hoffman), an overweight gay sound man with a crush on Eddie.

There are times when the ambitious narrative sweeps aside minor plot elements, notably Little Bill’s murder-suicide that passes without apparent effect on anyone; whilst when Dirk and Reed try to rob a well-off drug dealer (Alfred Molina) much is made of a security gate through which they enter his home but after the proverbial hits the fan in Tarentino-worthy style they exit it without further ado, escaping in Dirk's Corvette which, inexplicably, has been damaged, and so on, Anderson, however, seems happy to pass over such elements as his small scale epic (the story covers about six years).

Still, there is much more in this ambitious film that impresses than disappoints. With a strong script by Anderson, a  marvellous roster of characters, tip-top performances, particularly from both Reynolds (who did not approve of the sleazy subject matter and did not get on with Anderson) and Moore and Wahlberg acquitting himself well as the dim-witted porno star (although the big reveal in the film's last scene we could have done without) and an excellent feel for the period including a wall-to-wall soundtrack of contemporary pop hits, Boogie Nights is a lot of fun whilst at the same time well capturing the tawdry illusions of the porn industry.




Want something different?

random vintage best worst