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Paul Thomas Anderson
Mark Wahlberg, Julianne Moore, Don Cheadle, John C. Reilly, Philip Seymour Hoffman, William H. Macy, Burt Reynolds, Heather Graham
Writing Credits:
Paul Thomas Anderson

The story of a young man's adventures in the Californian pornography industry of the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Box Office:
$15 million.
Opening Weekend
$4,681,934 on 907 Screens.
Domestic Gross

Rated R

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1/16X9
English Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 155 min.
Price: $9.98
Release Date: 4/7/1998

• Audio Commentary With Director Paul Thomas Anderson
• 9 Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary
• Music Video with Optional Commentary
• Cast and Crew


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


Boogie Nights (1997)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (September 5, 2016)

No matter how many times I see 1997’s Boogie Nights, I can't help but compare it to 1990’s GoodFellas. That was my initial reaction when I saw the movie theatrically, and that's how I feel almost 20 years later. Director Paul Thomas Anderson really channelled that Scorsese mojo when he made Nights, his second feature film.

The similarities between the two films remain too striking to ignore: the editing styles, their plots, and the active use of source music both come pretty close to each other. Despite the similarities between the two pictures, though, I think Nights remains a successful and surprisingly individual film in its own right. It never feels like a rip-off of Scorsese's work, as Anderson makes the movie creative and compelling from start to finish.

The truth is that Boogie Nights doesn't quite approach the heights reached by the brilliant Scorsese film. It's hard to imagine a film that seems as self-assured and confident as GoodFellas, so it represents elite territory. Nonetheless, I feel Nights does surpass GoodFellas in one area: it's simply more fun.

17-year-old Eddie Adams (Mark Wahlberg) works a menial job at a nightclub, but he enjoys a minor perk: he makes extra money when he charges patrons to see his enormous penis. Porn film producer Jack Torrance (Burt Reynolds) catches a glimpse of Eddie and suspects the kid could turn into a star, so he recruits him to work as an actor.

Happy to do so, Eddie rechristens himself “Dirk Diggler” and immediately becomes part of Jack’s circle of performers and crew. We follow the journey taken by Eddie and his colleagues over many years, as we view how their lives and careers change.

I'm not sure why, but "fun" seems to be the best word I can find to describe Boogie Nights, even though much of the film is awfully dark. Even when events on-screen turn nasty and terrible things happen to the characters, the movie remains a thrilling rollercoaster ride.

"Mess" probably becomes the second best word to use to describe Boogie Nights, whereas "tight" and "coherent" are not phrases that come to mind as I watch it. As you discover if you listen to Anderson’s audio commentary - which also tends to be sloppy and rambling - Anderson basically wrote this film as a present to himself. He inserted a lot of the scenes simply because he wanted to see them. For example, he frequently mentions scenes that he should’ve cut but he kept them because they entertained him.

I've listened to a lot of audio commentaries, and when directors discuss deleted scenes, they often state that they omitted material because it slowed down the film or didn’t serve the overall narrative. Not Anderson: he talks about scenes that he left in despite the fact they dragged down the film.

Overall, Boogie Nights epitomizes the concept of a flawed but terrific film. It was Anderson's second movie, and it looks that way: it's loud, brash, and self-indulgent. However, somehow it manages to overcome all of those issues and work well.

The actors help make this a winning film, as across the board, we get top-notch performances. Lead actor Mark Wahlberg might be the weakest link, though. In truth, he's really very good, and much better than I expected, as Wahlberg shows a personality range for his character that surprises me. However, he's just not in a class with the rest of the cast, a disparity that shows from time to time.

Unfortunately, the actors get somewhat thin material, as the movie concentrates on scenarios and events more than characters. On the surface, it seems like a character-based film. After all, it's not about a bunch of people trying to stop some bad guys or something like that; there's really nothing to advance the story other than its focus on the lives of its participants.

However, these characters are rarely active. On the contrary, they tend to spend their time reacting to the world around them.

Part of the problem with the characters also revolves around the fact that they're mostly pathetic and/or buffoons, and this is especially true of the males. Really, only Julianne Moore's Amber Waves comes across as a fully-realized person to me, though Burt Reynolds' Jack Horner comes close; everyone else seems like a cartoon. I don't fault the actors for this; I think there was only so much they could do with the source and their semi-limited room for development.

Moore does make the most of her role, as she brings amazing depth to Amber. I don't want to go into specifics, but there are a few scenes I just can't imagine anyone else pulling off so well.

Despite inconsistencies, Boogie Nights remains a glorious mess of a film. It may lack coherence and tightness, but it more than makes up for those flaws with energy, spark and fervor. Boogie Nights is a terrific movie that holds up well after repeated viewings.

The DVD Grades: Picture B-/ Audio B-/ Bonus B+

Boogie Nights appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 monitors. This was a good but not great SD-DVD presentation.

Sharpness seemed acceptable and often pretty strong, as close-ups looked fairly well-defined. Wider shots came across as iffier, though, a factor exacerbated by minor edge haloes. Still, the image was usually reasonably concise.

Only minor signs of jaggies or shimmering occurred. Some mild digital artifacts popped up, but print flaws were essentially non-existent.

With its 1970s setting, the flick opted for loud, borderline garish tones, and the DVD reproduced them in an adequate manner. Sometimes the colors looked pretty peppy, but some tones could seem too heavy – especially reds. Still, the hues mainly appeared reasonably good. Blacks were moderately deep, and shadows showed decent smoothness, though a few interiors looked a bit murky. Again, this never became a memorable presentation, but within the confines of SD-DVD, it worked acceptably well.

Though not as good, the film’s Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack worked fine. The movie featured a soundfield oriented heavily toward the forward channels, where I heard excellent stereo separation for music, but general ambiance seemed less exciting. The mix used the rear speakers mainly for some minor reinforcement of the front channels - such as light applause during the award banquets – but that was about it.

That said, I won’t complain about the mix because it fit the film. The soundscape probably could have benefited from a little extra breadth, but this wasn't a movie that required an explosive surround track.

Audio quality appeared strong. Dialogue always came across as crisp and well-defined, with no edginess or concerns related to intelligibility. Effects appeared clear and realistic, and I noted no signs of distortion.

Although speech offered a major aspect of the film, I think music may actually be most important, as the mix of pop tunes and Michael Penn's score added tremendously to the mood and pacing of the movie. Happily, the track reproduced the music cleanly and strongly, with clear highs and some solid bass. The track as a whole worked well for the movie.

When we head to extras, we get an audio commentary from director Paul Thomas Anderson. He delivers a running, screen-specific look at the project’s origins and development, inspirations, influences and research, story/characters, cast and performances, music, editing, studio/ratings issues, and a mix of other domains.

When I first heard this commentary in the 90s, I loved it. Years later, it seems less winning, but it still becomes a good chat.

The main problem stems from its looseness, as Anderson can be more than a little “stream of consciousness”. However, I enjoy his frankness and his willingness to avoid the usual commentary BS. We learn quite a lot about the film, so this become a very good discussion – it’s just not as amazing as I used to believe.

Nine Deleted Scenes occupy a total of 23 minutes, 15 seconds. The vast majority of these offer extended versions of existing segments. For example, we see more of the van ride early in the movie, and there's also more "coke talk" among Reed, Dirk and Todd. The cut sequences didn’t offer anything stunning, but they presented some interesting material.

All of these snippets can be screened with their original audio or with commentary from Anderson, and they're fun either way. Anderson gives us details about the scenes as well as why they got the boot.

We find Michael Penn's Anderson-directed music video for "Try". It’s a solid piece and some cameos from Nights cast members add to the fun. Anderson also discusses the video during an optional commentary track.

Cast and Crew presents info for 16 actors and Anderson. These also add “biographies” for the movie’s characters, and that factor makes “C&C” more interesting than usual.

Boogie Nights remains a flawed masterpiece, but it's a gem nonetheless. I like this movie more every time I see it, although its problems seem impossible to ignore. The DVD provides generally positive picture and audio with a decent mix of supplements. Boogie Nights remains a highly entertaining film.

To rate this film visit the Blu-ray review of BOOGIE NIGHTS

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