This movie is like the Goodfellas of porn. I saw Boogie Nights at an age I most certainly should not have seen anything of the type, but it has stuck with me years later for reasons that have jack shit to do with nudity or porn.
For me this movie isn’t so much about the porn industry as it is about the era of excess that was the late 70s and early 80s, AKA the Disco Era.
It’s also a fascinating look into what it is like to become a celebrity a niche industry and how it can all go up in smoke very quickly. Mark Wahlberg established himself as a serious actor with his turn as “Dirk Diggler”, and there are also show stealing performances from Burt Reynolds and Phillip Seymour Hoffman. Also Julianne Moore and Heather Graham do fine work here as well.
One of the things I admire about this movie is how it was unafraid to show the true dark side of the world it was portraying. The sex here isn’t titillating or erotic. It’s work.
At the beginning of the movie it all seems so glamorous and seductive, but by the end, it is boring and life draining. Paul Thomas Anderson shows off some serious directing chops here, while making a movie that also serves as a commentary on the entertainment industry itself.
I think my favorite scene in this movie is near the end when Wahlberg’s “Dirk Diggler” and a friends (John C. Reilly and Thomas Jane) attempt to rip off of a guy set to the tune of “Sister Christian” while everyone is strung out on coke, and it sounds like a gun is going off every second (until one finally does) and the song changes to “Jessie’s Girl” and crap really hits the fan.
It is one of the best directed scenes I’ve ever watched in any movie. This is an almost perfect movie about a really scummy world in a glitterful era.
Boogie Nights gets a four out of five: GREAT.