(3.5 / 5)
This year, Boogie Nights turns 21 years old. The movie brought director Paul Thomas Anderson from indie director to budding auteur. Before going on to be a favorite of the Academy Awards, Boogie Nights managed to broaden Anderson’s audience and showcased numerous future nominees. Every few years, I revisit the film and find something new to enjoy.
When I first experienced the film in the late nineties on Starz or Encore, VHS was still the home rental format of choice. The enticing promise of a story about the porn industry lured my adolescent mind. But as the film unfolded, however, I saw a layered story of an industry on the verge of change as well as tale of a young man’s quick ascension to super-stardom and the downfall fame brings.
A young Mark Wahlberg stars as a well-endowed young man who meets revered porn producer/director Jack Horner (Burt Reynolds). The two create the stage name of Dirk Diggler and we follow Dirk’s career from the 1970s into the 1980s. Packed in the star-studded cast is mother hen Amber Waves (Julianne Moore), professional sidekick Reed Rothchild (John C. Reilly), fellow actress Rollergirl (Heather Graham), and a slew of other vivid characters that bring the period piece to life. Drugs, the birth of home video market, and fame swirl characters with history as we watch them peak and inevitably descend into the consequences of living recklessly.
This time watching through, I feel I could finally understand and embrace all the minutiae that populate every scene. Knowledge of the world they exist and the events that occur during this time paints a much richer picture. Wahlberg shows excellent promise of his later roles in a film that was still in the beginning of his career. The nominations for Best Writing, Supporting Actress (Moore), and Supporting Actor (Reynolds) are all well deserved. The rich and saturated tale moves swiftly for a movie creeping over the 2 ½ hour runtime. A highly recommended film from the late nineties showcasing future A-list stars. 3.5 out of 5 stars.