133 of 1001 Movies: Boogie Nights (1997)

Paul Thomas Anderson is becoming one of my favorite directors. He takes a movie that could easily be something that is ridiculous and he makes it into something very intense and emotionally driven. Out of the three I’ve seen from Anderson so far, Boogie Nights is by far the strongest as far a film. It does what the others seem to be trying to capture again, and that is create characters who are not normally people we would want to associate with, and creates them into people just looking for the things everyone else is, which seems to be love and a family.

Eddie is just a teen working at a nightclub, but this will lead to another world proving him some access to adulthood he hasn’t had. Jack Horner meets Eddie at work, and notices that there is something special about Eddie that he thinks would do well in his line of work, the adult film industry. Eddie is hesitant at first, but after a fight at home he runs away to live with Jack and his crew. He instantly shoots to stardom as porn star, Dirk Diggler, but in the world of porn he also finds things that bring many of them down including drugs, pride, and the stigma of being in porn.


This movie has some huge stars all packed into one movie, though a few of them weren’t quite as huge as we nowadays know them. Boogie Nights is known as Mark Walberg’s breakout role. He plays Eddie the guy who gets led into the porn industry. Walberg seems to always have the same face portraying people, but there is just something he brings to his roles that still give them an individual life, and that is no different in this movie. He portrays the different phases he goes through well, from naive, young porn actor, to a guy who is heavily addicted to drugs, and to a guy who thinks he can do bigger and better things.

The biggest performance comes from Burt Reynolds as Jack Horner, who received the most attention for his role as the guy who was sort of a lead guy in the porn industry. He isn’t just a guy who likes to film porn, but seems to believe there is an art to it. Julianne Moore also continues to prove she is one of the stronger female actresses there is. Her role as Amber Waves is one of the more moving ones in the movie. She is a woman who seems to be drawn into the darker things the world of porn has to offer, but is still seeking things she lost because of her decision to enter the field. Which seems to be what most of them are struggling with including Don Cheadle’s Buck Swope. All the characters here have to learn a tough lesson of how once you become a porn star you are stuck being a porn star whether you are doing well in that industry or not.

Boogie Nights goes deeper than just being about porn though. The more I watch of Anderson’s movies the more I notice he incorporates a family theme into his movie…adult wise that is. Most the characters in his movies are looking to belong somewhere as I’ve saw so far. Whether it’s Eddie finding acceptance with the people he works with in porn, a man finding a place to be in the company of a cult leader, or a man who suffers ridicule from his own sisters that the only love he has found is in a mysterious woman…all these characters seem to be looking for the love that their families lacked giving them.

Boogie Nights is definitely one of the stronger films from Anderson who already has a great list of movies he always brings his all to. There is something about this one that seems to be a perfect combination of the other ones, and with scenes so intense that I couldn’t help but be wrapped up entirely in the movie at times. There are some scenes so brutal to watch and others that will just make you squeamish by the graphic content.

Rating 9 of 10.

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