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(1997) (Mark Wahlberg, Burt Reynolds) (R)

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Drama: A young man finds fame, fortune and troubles in the world of adult films.
Eddie Adams (MARK WAHLBERG) is a seventeen-year-old busboy at a 1970's nightclub. Spotted by adult film director Jack Horner (BURT REYNOLDS) for the generous bulge in his pants, Eddie is lured into the world of making porno films. He meets Amber Waves (JULIANNE MOORE), Jack's part-time lover and full time porn queen, along with others in the industry such as actor Buck Swope (DON CHEADLE), crew member Little Bill (WILLIAM MACY), the films' investor known as "The Colonel" (ROBERT RIDGELY) and a woman constantly on roller skates known only as Rollergirl (HEATHER GRAHAM). With his natural physical "gift," Eddie becomes a big star in the adult film industry and changes his name to Dirk Diggler. Working hard and playing harder, Amber introduces Dirk to the world of cocaine, and soon he becomes hooked. While doing so, he starts to hang out with Reed Rothchild (JOHN C. REILLY), his adult action film co-star, and his friend Todd Parker (THOMAS JANE). Years pass and life is good for Dirk until Jack finds a new young actor who make take Dirk's place. Soon Dirk's drug addition gets in the way and his star in the porno industry fades. As they enter the more conservative 1980's, Dirk and the others find the industry, and their lives, changing in ways they had never imagined.
The sexual aspects the film offers might draw some older teens, and others who are fans of Wahlberg (a.k.a. rapper Marky Mark) might want to see him. The growing buzz about a scene where we fully see Dirk's large genitals and the question of whether it's real or just prosthetics, might interest others to see for themselves.
For strong sex scenes with explicit dialogue, nudity, drug use, language and violence.
Considering the pornography, other casual sex, drug use, profanity, etc... few, if any, parents would consider any character in this production to be a good role model.


OUR TAKE: 8 out of 10
Often in the world of movies, a film is singled out by the press as the "next big" thing, and a collective daze fogs the minds of many critics who jump on the bandwagon and proclaim the movie as the year's best, and that other talented film makers will be green with envy after seeing it. Sometimes that's true. Sometimes it's not. This year, that film is "Boogie Nights." While it is a very well-made feature, this is still one step below the Scorsese ("Goodfellas") and Tarantino ("Pulp Fiction") films it's trying to emulate. It does lean more toward the Scorsese side, with long tracking shots, a heavy 1970's soundtrack, and occasional, but often brutal violence. And of course, lots of drug use. What it's missing, however, and what keeps it from being is as good as "Pulp Fiction" is the sharp, witty dialogue. This film looks good and has a vibrant feel to it, but we won't remember these characters for what they say. They'll be remembered for what they do, and that's make porno films. Others will say how this movie is an examination of that adult film industry, which is not entirely true. It's more about the people involved in that industry -- and while it does show some "behind the scenes" views, it's about the life and times of those in front of, and behind the camera.

The performances are good across the board, with actor Mark Wahlberg (a.k.a. Marky Mark, the former white-bread rap artist and Calvin Kline underwear model), creating a moderately sympathetic character who is one of few that the audience will feel for. Of course with fame, money and drugs his life changes and he becomes a different person, dropping him onto the same desperate playing field of those who've come before him. While all of the characters are interesting to watch, you'll never be drawn to them -- it's more like being voyeurs at an accident scene where we see the collision coming from a long way off. You don't really care what happens to these people. While Eddie/Dirk is written as an underachiever, he's not initially some innocent kid and thus his fame and then destructive slide into obscurity aren't that upsetting. Burt Reynolds is good as the usually calm, in control director and the role seems to fit him better than his wisecracking, gum chewing characters of yesteryear. One has to wonder, though, if he saw this project as a career resuscitator after watching Travolta's return to fame with "Pulp Fiction."

The details to the era's artifacts are excellent, from the wide collared clothing, to posters featuring popular pinups such as Farrah and Cheryl, to the music that everyone loved then, hated later, and now likes again. The soundtrack, while quite impressive and always entertaining, could easily be a commercial for a Time/Life "Music of the 1970's and early 80's" collection. For the first half of the film, the songs are constant. Much like a chain smoker, as soon as one song is finished the next one starts up. While it does establish the era of the movie, writer/director Paul Thomas Anderson ("Hard Eight") occasionally uses it too much to generate the movie's mood. Of course that's been done in films since sound was first added in the 1920's, but here it's repetitive use feels a little too manipulative, as if Anderson's taking the easy way out. He obviously has a gift for shooting scenes -- his long, no-cut tracking shots are among the best visuals in a long time -- and I personally don't think he needed to rely on the music as much as he did.

The second half jettisons much of the music and a great deal of the stunning camera work as the characters' decline begins, perhaps to contrast with earlier scenes where their times were good. Whatever the case, the movie gets slightly disjointed in that second half, as time flashes by in spurts and the story's strong storyline gets fragmented. Scenes pop up out of nowhere and while impressive on their own, don't seem to fit in as part of the overall movie. Still, some of those of scenes and the earlier parts of the film are quite impressive. One can tell that Anderson studied Scorsese's film long and hard, and the result is one of the more visually entertaining films of the year. While a glance through the categories depicts a rather grim feature, there are several light, and often funny moments to break up the other material, including some hilarious clips from the "serious" adult action films these people tried to make. Additionally, a scene where off-key Dirk tries to start a music career is painfully funny, especially considering that Wahlberg had a music career before turning to film.

Despite the story's familiar plot of a young, naive boy turned wealthy star who then has his fall, it's done in an intriguing enough fashion to hold one's interest even though the film's length (around two and half hours) is, and begins to feel, a bit long. Whether audiences flock to this film, though, is questionable. In Scorsese's films, people watch because they are fascinated by organized crime -- a common theme in several of his movies. While people are also interested in sex (the adult film industry generates billions of dollars of revenue annually), it's not sure whether they're equally interested in knowing about the people who make such films. Obviously the critical claim this movie is receiving will draw some people, but the subject matter will repel just as many. Audiences should remember, though, that the film is more about the people than the industry they work in.

If you don't mind that subject matter, or the violence, drugs, profanity, etc... you might just find this film to be an interesting diversion from normal Hollywood fare. Though it's not a happy film by any means, it's the kind of picture that grows on you the more you retrospectively think about it. Certainly not for all audience members, "Boogie Nights" is a harsh, often brutal look at a seedy profession in the 1970's. Often visually stunning, it is one of the better films -- but not the best -- of the year, and thus we give it an 8 out of 10.

Despite our above artistic praise, many people will be offended by this film and few, if any, teenagers should be allowed to see it. So if you object to pornography, other sexual encounters, drug use, extreme profanity and violence among other things, you should probably skip this movie. While the subject matter is very adult and often ugly, it does show the downfall and direct consequences of some of this behavior on some, but not all, of the characters (Amber doesn't get custody of her child, Buck can't get a loan for his business, Dirk's career and money diminish over time, The Colonel goes to prison, etc...). That said, here's a quick breakdown of the material. Obviously there's nudity along with staged and "real" sexual encounters that show graphic movement. Profanity is extreme with nearly 150 "f' words. Cocaine is heavily used by many characters when they're not drinking or smoking. The film also contains several graphically violent scenes where people are killed. Due to the nature of the content contained in this film, we strongly suggest that you read through the scene listings before seeing it.

  • Many people snort "coke" (cocaine) throughout the movie including Amber, Dirk, Rollergirl and others.
  • People drink in a nightclub and at many parties throughout the movie.
  • Eddie's girlfriend smokes a joint.
  • Jack fixes himself a drink.
  • Reed and Eddie have margaritas.
  • A woman shows up with the Colonel and asks Jake if they have "any good coke" to which Jack says they should be able to find some.
  • A woman has a severe nose bleed after snorting too much coke.
  • The film crew celebrates Dirk's first day of shooting by drinking champagne.
  • Dirk and others go to sell a man some coke and we see that man doing a bong hit.
  • A woman has a severe nose bleed after snorting too much coke.
  • A man commits suicide and blood sprays on the wall behind him.
  • A man's face is very bloody after being punched and kicked by Jack and Rollergirl.
  • A gunfight breaks out in a pastry shop and those who are shot are very bloody and Buck has blood and brain matter splattered all over him.
  • Several people who are shot are bloody.
  • The Colonel's mouth is bloody after being hit.
  • A woman's thighs are a little bloody during childbirth.
  • Obviously, some viewers will find most, if not all, of the characters have extreme cases of both for they deal in pornography, have other casual sex, use drugs, etc...
  • Little Bill's wife has casual sex with many people (ie. Affairs) and even does so in public and in front of Little Bill despite his obvious discomfort of seeing that happen.
  • A manager asks Buck (who's black), "What kind of brother are you?" after Buck plays country music to a potential buyer.
  • We discover that the Colonel is a pedofile.
  • Dirk gets both as he becomes arrogant, especially when under the influence of the cocaine he uses.
  • A man tries to rob a pastry shop at gunpoint. When everyone else is killed, Buck spots the bag of money from the safe and takes it for himself.
  • After finding his wife having sex with another man, a husband goes to his car, gets a gun, and returns to the bedroom and shoots the two of them dead (not seen) and then kills himself (seen).
  • Dirk and Jack get into a slight pushing match when Dirk's high on coke and is belligerent on the set.
  • A man tries to rob a pastry shop at gunpoint. Buck sees a patron pull out a gun and then several people are shot dead.
  • Dirk, Reed and Todd go to make a coke sale at a rich man's house, and Todd has a gun that he's planning to use to rob the place. But the man's bodyguard has a gun and as the scene progresses, it becomes more and more tense and finally turns very violent.
  • Handgun: Fired by Dirk in the opening credits of one of his movies.
  • Handguns/Shotguns: Used to threaten or kill people. See "Violence" for details.
  • Beyond and not including the sex, drugs, and material listed in other categories, here's what's present:
  • Phrases: "Pissed off," "Bitch" (toward women), "Come," "Jack off," "Joy juice," and "Hard on" (all sexual), "Shut up," "Slut," "Whore," "Loser," "Stupid," "Bastard," "Faggot," "Homo" and "Piss."
  • A man commits suicide by putting a gun in his mouth.
  • Rollergirl never takes off her skates (even in school, etc...).
  • A young man sets off firecrackers inside a house.
  • A drugged up man takes a gun and does one round of Russian roulette.
  • While not scary, loud music suddenly starts out of silence and might make you jump just from being startled.
  • A young man continually sets off firecrackers in an already tense scene and causes the other characters, and the audience, to jump several times.
  • There's a mild amount of tension filled music in the movie.
  • The song "Afternoon Delight" contains veiled references to having sex.
  • Another song has sexual moaning sounds in it.
  • At least 148 "f" words (18 used sexually, 5 used with "mother"), 24 "s" words, 11 slang terms for male genitals (the "d" and "c" words), 2 slang terms for female genitals (the "p" word), 4 slang terms for breasts (the "t" word), 14 asses (4 using "hole"), 3 hells, 2 damns, 2 S.O.B.'s, and 8 uses of "G-damn," 4 uses of "Jesus Christ," 3 uses each of "God" and "Oh God," and 1 use of "Oh Jesus" as exclamations.
  • Jack approaches Eddie who thinks he's there to be visually stimulated. Eddie tells him he can just look for five dollars or watch him "jack off" for ten.
  • Early on, Amber shows quite a bit of revealing cleavage.
  • Little Bill walks in and discovers his wife having sex with another man. We see her bare breasts as well as explicit movement and hear sexual sounds.
  • We see Eddie in his underwear and he feels his scrotum.
  • A student in a classroom makes a male oral sex gesture toward Rollergirl.
  • We see Eddie and his girlfriend on his bed and she's in her underwear and bra, and tells him that she wants "it" some more. She then says, "Your c*ck is so beautiful."
  • Rollergirl takes Eddie into a backroom, unzips his pants and performs oral sex on him (mainly implied).
  • Rollergirl takes off her clothes and we see full frontal and rear nudity. She then climbs on top of Eddie on a sofa (in front of Jack who watches) and they have sex (implied).
  • Many women wear skimpy bathing suits at a pool party.
  • Many people stand outside in a circle watching Little Bill's wife having sex with another man. We see very explicit movement and Little Bill mentions it's hard to concentrate with "a guy's d*ck in her." We then see this encounter in the background of a shot for several minutes.
  • The Colonel, who funds Jack's movies, meets Eddie and says, "I hear you've got a great big c*ck. Can I see it please?" Eddie then pulls down his swimsuit (we don't see anything).
  • During their first filmed sex scene, Amber tells Dirk (Eddie), "Come on my t*ts if you can. Just pull it out and come on my stomach and t*ts." We see her bare breasts, his bare butt, some movement, and hear exaggerated sexual sounds.
  • A male film crew member is gay, tells Dirk that he's sexy, and finally grabs and kisses Dirk in one scene.
  • In a montage we see women's bare breasts and a woman performing oral sex (we see just her head moving).
  • We see another filmed scene where Dirk opens his pants and tells a woman "Why don't you feast on that?"
  • We hear Little Bill's wife having sex again, but don't see anything.
  • In another film clip, Dirk licks a woman's nipple.
  • Dirk goes into a bathroom and tries to manually arouse himself to have an erection, but he's had too much cocaine for that to happen.
  • A nude woman (bare breasts) asks Jack about her co-star, "Is he going to f' me in the ass?" He replies, "Is that what you want?" She says, "That would be nice" and he tells the man, "F' her in the ass."
  • We see two bare-breasted women in a hot tub who lick each other's tongues.
  • A man picks up Dirk and wants to watch him masturbate (activity seen, but not explicit), but Dirk can't climax.
  • Jack and Rollergirl pick a guy off the street to have sex with her in a limo. He gets between her legs and we see his bare buttocks along with some movement.
  • A bare-breasted woman pops up out of a magic act.
  • Dirk pulls out his rather large penis from his pants and we see it for several seconds.
  • Jack smokes cigars in many scenes.
  • Amber, Dirk and other characters occasionally smoke cigarettes.
  • Others smoke in the backgrounds of shots.
  • Amber is in a custody battle with her husband over their son, and we see one court case (but not the child).
  • Eddie and his mother don't get along and they fight in several scenes where she calls him a "loser" and tells him that he can't do anything. He cries and pleads for not to be mean to him. She gets after him for quitting school and for dating a girl she doesn't approve of. He eventually moves out without taking any of his belongings with him.
  • Pornography and casual sex.
  • Drugs.
  • The 1970's and why people wore the clothing they did.
  • Eddie slams his mother against a wall during one of their fights where she's emotionally abusing him.
  • The Colonel's henchman slaps another man after he's allowed a woman to overdose on coke.
  • There's some fake looking fighting in the opening credits of one of Dirk's films.
  • After finding his wife having sex with another man, a husband goes to his car, gets a gun, and returns to the bedroom and shoots the two of them dead (not seen). He then takes the gun and commits suicide (graphically seen).
  • Dirk slaps a woman in a film.
  • Dirk and Jack get into a slight pushing match when Dirk's high on coke and is belligerent on the set.
  • A man picks up Dirk and wants to watch him masturbate, but Dirk can't climax. Several of that man's friends then arrive and beat up Dirk, and kick him in the face, for being a "homo."
  • Jack pummels a man (who they got off the street to have sex with Rollergirl in a limo) after he says that Jack's films aren't that good anymore. Rollergirl then gets out and stomps her skates down onto the man's face.
  • A man tries to rob a pastry shop at gunpoint. A patron pulls out a gun and three people end up being shot and killed and Buck is covered in blood and brain splatter.
  • A bodyguard is shot and killed, his assailant is shot in the shoulder and later killed, and Dirk and Reed are shot at by a man with a shotgun.
  • A man hits the Colonel.

  • Reviewed October 8, 1997

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