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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 16.92%
Average: 6.67%
Pretty Bad: 5.13%
Total Crap: 15.9%

9 reviews, 141 user ratings

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Boogie Nights
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by EricDSnider

"A finely crafted, well-acted movie about movies that usually aren't."
5 stars

“Boogie Nights” has a lot of sex in it, which does not surprise me, given the film’s porn-industry subject matter. What is refreshing is that it does not dwell on the sex in a lurid manner, but neither is it judgmental toward porn makers.

This objective point of view is borne out in director P.T. Anderson’s use of long tracking shots. The first scene, in which most of the major characters are introduced, is nearly three minutes of one shot, sweeping through a Los Angeles intersection and into the nightclub where future porn star Dirk Diggler (Mark Wahlberg) is a busboy, and where current porn director Jack Horner (Burt Reynolds) hangs out. A subsequent, similar shot takes us through one of Jack’s backyard parties, making us a fly on a very interesting wall.

Dirk’s first on-camera sex scene (with Amber Waves, played by Julianne Moore), while not done in one shot, nevertheless shows us the whole process from beginning to end with very little artistic intrusion. Most of it is seen through the eyes of Jack Horner’s cameraman, with no added music or commentary.

Which is why I say “Boogie Nights” avoids lewdness. The porn industry is never made to appear particularly glamorous. The sex scenes are not very erotic or sexy, either. They’re perfunctory, almost business-like.

It is also to the film’s credit, though, that the porn industry is not made into a monstrous villain that corrupts our youth. I believe it is guilty of those things, but Anderson’s point is more observational: Here’s what it was like in the ‘70s and ‘80s; make of it what you will.

The one character who objects to the rampant sexuality, insofar as it means his wife has to keep doin’ it with strangers, is not portrayed even as a happy man, much less a morally correct one. Another character who no doubt would object --Dirk’s mother -- disappears from the film as soon as Dirk starts working for Jack. This movie has no use for characters who are going to object to pornography on purely moral grounds, because this movie does not particularly care about the rightness or wrongness of it.

Compare this to 2000’s “Quills,” about the Marquis de Sade. This film couldn’t manage to be about a tawdry, filthy character without being tawdry and filthy itself. Though “Boogie Nights” is far from demure, it at least succeeds at not rolling in the raunchiness any more than necessary.

Dirk Diggler, nee Eddie Adams, is an aimless 17-year-old blessed with a peculiar gift in the way of his anatomy. It is this fact that makes Jack Horner interested in putting him in show business, and Eddie is only too willing.

Wahlberg’s performance is a classic one, playing Eddie (who adopts Dirk Diggler as his porn name, though it has nothing to do with his mother’s maiden name or the street he grew up on) as a quiet kid with a strongly calculating mind. He’s not just an innocent who gets dragged into pornography. It’s more or less what he always wanted, and he knows he’ll be good at it. No naive youngster, this Mr. Adams.

The cast of characters is an interesting, mildly sad group. Their ultimate destinations are shown to us, with hints at what future pleasures or troubles await them. Fine acting all around from Reynolds, Moore, Don Cheadle, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Heather Graham, William H. Macy and especially John C. Reilly buoy the already-stellar screenplay.

In a way, this film is not much different from the “a star is born” genre of movies where a country boy heads for Hollywood and becomes a legend. The chief difference is that this country boy grew up near Hollywood, and he had his sights set on the prize before he ever got there.

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originally posted: 09/01/01 07:18:50
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User Comments

9/13/17 morris campbell a bore nothing or no one to care about 1 stars
3/29/17 stephen an american classic 5 stars
2/23/17 morris campbell who cares? uninvolving overrrated real but boring 1 stars
3/16/15 stanley welles a concise, vigorously told yarn 4 stars
12/06/14 MarkM In hindsight maybe not quite as great as it seemed, but still damned great. 5 stars
10/12/12 Brandon It's entertaining, but don't forget it's just a fun 70s soundtrack. 4 stars
2/26/11 brian Epic. 4 stars
6/14/10 Jeff Wilder Close to perfectly made. Does for the porn business what Goodfellas did for organized crime 5 stars
1/12/09 Dal Anyone who doesn't like this film or even recognise it's great story telling is a moron. 5 stars
12/05/08 K. Sear A fun film that marked the emergence of a new talent. 4 stars
11/30/08 james amazing in every aspect. 5 stars
9/03/08 Shaun Wallner This one was kinda boring. 1 stars
6/22/08 Steve Best movie ever made PERIOD 5 stars
12/21/07 Wendell O. Maness Heather Graham boinkss like a banshee! 5 stars
12/09/07 SamanthaP there's a lot of boobs in this movie! 4 stars
11/19/07 Wendell O. Maness Great behind the scenes story of how porn is made, good sex scenes 5 stars
8/20/07 mr.mike Burt Reynolds was robbed of his Oscar..he really deserved it. 4 stars
6/11/07 al smith moving touching and brilliant whoever says otherwise is a fucking prick 5 stars
5/10/07 MP Bartley Boisterous, intoxicating, funny and tragic with terrific soundtrack 5 stars
3/29/07 fools♫gold More proof that perfect music brings perfect movies. Depression is so funny w/ right music! 5 stars
2/04/07 Phil M. Aficionado Brilliance shines through shortcomings of this derivative piece (Quentin/Altman). 4 stars
1/18/07 Monday Morning Hilarious and totally creative. Like watching a car wreck in slow-mo, but funner. 5 stars
1/16/07 David Pollastrini very well done 3 stars
9/18/06 Jessie Great! 5 stars
9/12/06 Eden Very well made, great acting, music and directing. Tarantino-esq 5 stars
8/27/06 stu anyone who doen't like this is stupid 5 stars
8/14/06 cody a gulity pleasure movie with lot fun and sex scenes, what more can guy ask for! 3 stars
6/18/06 jcnice Entertaining for a while, then bogs down in folks sufferng for their sins. 4 stars
6/09/06 Joshua Awesome. 5 stars
5/20/06 mr.mike burt should've won the oscar 5 stars
3/08/06 great my favorite movie of all time, great movie to watch a must see for everyone! 5 stars
11/24/05 John Dog All you guys who think this movie's crap are assholes. 5 stars
11/02/05 shackle what a pile of pretentious wonder you all fell for it. 1 stars
10/26/05 Crumbcake The movie that has brainwashed an entire moviegoing public into thinking it's good!!!!!!!!! 1 stars
10/24/05 Suk-R-Punch P-E-R-F-E-C-T-L-Y A-W-F-U-L-!-!-!-!-! 1 stars
10/20/05 Agent Sands P-E-R-F-E-C-T-!-!-!-!-! 5 stars
10/19/05 Anthony Gee Marky Fart can't act. 1 stars
10/17/05 Crapture Who cares what these human spitoons do with their wasted lives?!?!?!?!?! CRAP!!!!!!!!!!!!! 1 stars
10/15/05 OodlesofOs Scumdogs of the Universe. 1 stars
10/14/05 gasp The crappiest movie that everyone seems to love for absolutely no reason at all. SHEEP!!!! 1 stars
10/13/05 Bryant Gumby BOOGER NIGHTS 1 stars
10/12/05 Johnny Cake Heather's tits = A+++++++++++++++++++++++++ The movie = F--------------------------------- 1 stars
10/10/05 Biz-e What a big piece of sleazeball shit...that describes its fans, as well. 1 stars
9/23/05 Jakub MOST OVERRATED MOVIE EVER! 1 stars
9/16/05 drippy This was a big, giant, massive ball of mung. 1 stars
9/14/05 Boy mmm... rollergirl mmmmm 5 stars
9/07/05 Bitchum 'Should have been called POOPIE NIGHTS. 1 stars
9/05/05 JubJub Stupid, scummy, sleazy, shitty, sappy, silly, smug. 1 stars
9/03/05 Craven Simply put: garbage. 1 stars
9/02/05 Mailk Tries to hard to be cool and hip and arty and important...ends up being just shit. 1 stars
9/02/05 Edward Paul "I Have No Talent" Anderson...both of them suck big and little dicks. 1 stars
9/01/05 unlimited this is just another film that one dork said was cool and all the other dorks followed. 1 stars
8/31/05 Vasquez Total Tarantino/Robert Altman rip-off...PTA sucks donkey balls. 1 stars
8/30/05 Brisbane Who gives a shit about a bunch of public fuckers?!?! They're barely even human...fuck'em!! 1 stars
8/29/05 Blissful Johnny You guys just love this movie because of the big cock, don't you? You looove the cock... 1 stars
8/28/05 Jabberjaw Not a single character here worth caring about...not a one. 1 stars
8/28/05 hicks Quite possibly the most overrated movie and director in the history of cinema. 1 stars
7/18/05 DM Well-acted, sometimes depressing but brilliantly made. 5 stars
6/19/05 J MAN roxy is an idiot, great film 5 stars
6/08/05 Agent Sands One of my top 10 favorites. Riveting, powerful, brilliant filmmaking. 5 stars
5/13/05 Indrid Cold Ultimately Anderson doesn't have anything profound to say, but boy does he do it in style. 5 stars
4/26/05 shady the movie rocks out with its cock out. 5 stars
3/16/05 Chris Stephens Good movie some great lines 5 stars
3/12/05 Jack Bourbon not as bad as Magnolia 2 stars
2/11/05 H.P. Lovecraft Excellent acting. Original movie. Entertaining and real. 5 stars
1/09/05 Agent Sands It's impossible to dislike this movie. It is one of the best movies ever, dammit. 5 stars
1/08/05 Nessus Just like real life, it was great until the 80s. About 45 mins too long. 3 stars
6/28/04 Daveman Damn near perfect. Highly entertaining but never sentimental. 5 stars
6/14/04 MyGreenBed Vastly overrated, spawned an atrocious monster in Markie Mark "the actor", no thanks. 2 stars
3/30/04 malcolm very good but overrated. wrapped up too neatly. 4 stars
12/08/03 john a greatly entrtaining drama - funny too! 5 stars
9/19/03 Samuel Justus good movie, except for the prothsetic penis at the end... 5 stars
8/07/03 Alice Great humor. 4 stars
5/09/03 Marky Mark & Funky Bunch "Broken dreams, shattered pride"...they were all resigned to live "on the wild side." 5 stars
4/15/03 Jack Bourbon Bored me to death. For people who want to watch real porn but are afraid, perhaps. SUCKS! 1 stars
3/26/03 Sommersby Entertaining, bit it turns maudlin and formulaic in second half. Reynolds is extraordinary. 3 stars
3/17/03 Peter This is one of my all time favorites. It just kicks butt! 5 stars
12/23/02 BigBlackAfrika PT Anderson is brilliant. He manipulates an audience like a director is s'pposed ta. 5 stars
11/19/02 Nevz Wish mine was THAT big 4 stars
11/05/02 Daniel One of the most horrible films ever! Not offensive, mind you. Just plain stupid. 1 stars
10/27/02 MarktheShark6 The name Dirk Diggler is funny, otherwise it's just sick and pointless. 2 stars
8/27/02 Jim Amiable camp morphs into 'Pulp Fiction' and then into the Brady Bunch 3 stars
8/05/02 Charles Tatum Well written...and oh so naughty 4 stars
7/23/02 Bada Bing Crosby the 'Sister Christian' scene alone is a masterpice; rest is just as good too! 5 stars
7/05/02 KMG FYI: Wahlberg has 3 nipples 3 stars
6/03/02 Jenny Tullwartz More than you wanted to know about an enterprise more pitiful than you ever wanted it to be 2 stars
5/23/02 Piz I'm still quoting lines from this movie...hilarious and engaging 4 stars
4/06/02 Diotima who gives a damn about the workings/subtleties of the porn industry? A waste of time. 1 stars
4/03/02 Edfink Lombardo One of the best movies of the '90s. Top-notch acting, writing, directing... A masterpiece 5 stars
2/28/02 Alan Smithee Burt Reynolds as a porn producer, and full frontal Heather Graham nudity. 5 stars
2/21/02 Nevz I liked it 5 stars
2/20/02 Xaver A good and depressing film. 4 stars
2/17/02 Devil Boy B Maybe in 20 years PTA will add 45 minutes for Boogie Nights Redux. 5 stars
2/12/02 john james one of the worst movies i've ever seen. boring and pointless! 1 stars
1/08/02 Spyguy2 A masterpiece of American film from a brilliantly talented director - P.T.A. 5 stars
11/30/01 Mr. Hat (formerly Joe Zappa) I like when Roller Girl goes down on Dirk. Dirk Diggler is a really stupid name though. 3 stars
10/16/01 KIRSTY My favourite movie 5 stars
10/03/01 Butterbean Mark will always be Dirk Diggler when I see him in other movies 5 stars
9/29/01 Phoenix Wahlberg is a really good actor, he doesn't get enough credit, and the movie is excellent. 5 stars
9/17/01 Rebecca whalberg This movie wa Mark's finest job well acted and well written! Go rent it! NOW! 5 stars
7/01/01 Peter Brook The amazing thing is that Magnolia is even better than this 5 stars
5/28/01 Connor Dueck a look at the porn industry through a good movie. 5 stars
5/18/01 Bada Bing Crosby Made me feel filthy, had to take a shower afterwards to get the movie off me 5 stars
2/16/01 Black Bob Oh man, that white boy is bigger than me, shit. 5 stars
1/10/01 Rob Banfitch Its amazing that Anderson can make the porn business art. 5 stars
12/31/00 Msitrab Excellent movie, great performances 5 stars
10/27/00 JC23 Awesome 5 stars
9/13/00 Boy In The Designer Bubble If my willie were that big, I'd never wear pants!!! 4 stars
7/13/00 Tom Excellent performance by Julianne Moore 4 stars
7/01/00 Elvisfan so sleazy i needed a shower...and a wank 5 stars
6/04/00 Piz a dynamite story with likeable characters all-around...a kick-ass movie 5 stars
4/17/00 julie "People tell me I look a lot like Han Solo." 5 stars
4/12/00 high and mighty asshole the greatest. an absolute goddamned masterpiece. where were the oscars? PTA IS THE BEST 5 stars
3/07/00 J. Alán Blankenship A truly brilliant masterpiece, Burt Reynolds & Mark Wahlberg were amazing. 5 stars
1/12/00 paul great 5 stars
11/05/99 Anthony Ellis A great movie, but maybe too long! 5 stars
10/05/99 Bozo Pretty hot, great soundtrack, lousy clothes, lousy fake dick, great firecrackers!! 5 stars
9/25/99 alyssa Ah, the excesses. 4 stars
8/27/99 Bornslippy Great script, great acting, great soundtrack. All the characters deserve a sequel! 5 stars
8/01/99 Raiderfan26 The pulp fiction of the porn industry. Truly a great movie! 5 stars
7/26/99 J-Dogg Great movie. Long, but entertaining. Needs more nudity though. 5 stars
6/30/99 hum i was suprised at how good it is 4 stars
4/15/99 Jon Jackson Superb. P.T. Anderson is an amazing man, check out Sydney (Hard 8) 5 stars
2/24/99 mochacchino It wasnt as great as I thought it would be but its worth the time 5 stars
2/18/99 Piz well acted and a great story. You'll want to see it again. 5 stars
11/26/98 Mr.Pink Everything in this movie is GREAT!! 5 stars
11/09/98 Spice What a suprise! Mark was refresingly new and talented! What a bod!!!!! 5 stars
10/24/98 Timmy C I want Heather Graham. 5 stars
10/19/98 Kwyjibo A modern day classic. Anderson is one to watch. 5 stars
10/07/98 Maegs I Hated every single second. 5 stars
9/17/98 cheryl_ann i wanna be like rollergirl. 4 stars
9/07/98 Damien SEX,VIolence, DIRK DIGLLER. FUCKING GREAT 5 stars
9/04/98 Badass YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
8/25/98 Miss Stress Hell, it wasn't that big! 4 stars
8/23/98 Mister Whoopee The penis was in advance stages of rigormortis. 5 stars
8/23/98 Superfly My only complaint is a question... do penises turn gray at a certain length? 5 stars
8/21/98 Pete Well made - All around great effort from PT Anderson. Why did Burt fire his agent? 5 stars
8/16/98 Johny Ripped off Scorsese a little to much, but I still liked it a lot 5 stars
8/14/98 sean good writing, good acting make up for derivativeness 4 stars
8/14/98 {{{OZ}}} Roxy's wrong about Rollergirl. She rules the school. 5 stars
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  02-Oct-1997 (R)
  DVD: 29-Aug-2000


  02-Feb-1998 (R)

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