Boogie Nights

Boogie Nights Image
Metascore
85

Universal acclaim - based on 28 Critics What's this?

User Score
4.2

Mixed or average reviews- based on 418 Ratings

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  • Starring: , ,
  • Summary: A multifaceted look at the porn industry in Los Angeles in the 70's and 80's, focusing on the journey of a young man (Wahlberg) from restaurant dishwasher to porn star and beyond.

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Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 25 out of 28
  2. Negative: 0 out of 28
  1. 100
    With its ceaseless music, large canvas, shrewd casting and flawless ensemble acting and the dexterity of its whiplashing mood switches, the movie recalls Robert Altman's "Nashville" more than any subsequent movie has.
  2. The New Republic
    Reviewed by: Stanley Kauffmann
    100
    If Boogie Nights were poorly made and acted, its materials would make it intolerably tawdry. But its so well done that we keep watching. [Nov. 10, 1997]
  3. Writer-director Paul Thomas Anderson has perfectly wedded form to function by filming Boogie Nights in a style suggesting the grainy texture of porn and the ambivalence of the era.
  4. Baltimore Sun
    Reviewed by: Ann Hornaday
    88
    A grand, sweeping nostalgia trip that evokes the sickness of an era even as it tries to find its essential humanity.
  5. Time
    Reviewed by: Richard Corliss
    80
    So here's a tip for those attending this handsomely acted, epic-length little film. Ease into the sleaze, stare at the party animals, look but don't touch, and, oh, boogie all night. [October 6, 1997]
  6. The movie's special gift happens to be Mark Wahlberg, who gives a terrifically appealing performance in this tricky role.
  7. Portland Oregonian
    Reviewed by: Shawn Levy
    50
    It's possible to be dazzled by a movie and still not like it very much.

See all 28 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 29 out of 37
  2. Negative: 3 out of 37
  1. Nov 8, 2012
    10
    I was blown away by Paul Thomas Anderson's 'Boogie Nights.' Never have I seen a film so alive. The writing, directing, acting, editing,I was blown away by Paul Thomas Anderson's 'Boogie Nights.' Never have I seen a film so alive. The writing, directing, acting, editing, cinematography, and epic soundtrack are all key elements in the construction of this nearly flawless film. Expand
  2. Apr 3, 2016
    10
    There was a time during the long history of the adult entertainment industry that porn films showed signs of artistic ambition. During theThere was a time during the long history of the adult entertainment industry that porn films showed signs of artistic ambition. During the late '70s, a small cadre of directors believed that they could combine the raunch of real sex with an involving plot. It was a lofty goal, and one that ultimately proved impossible to realize, especially with the advent of video forcing movies to be made cheaper and faster. In his new film, Boogie Nights, writer/director Paul Thomas Anderson takes us back to the disco era, and, by following a small group of characters, recreates the rise and fall of "artistic porn" and those who participated in it.

    But Boogie Nights isn't just an expose of the porn industry -- it's a provocative and involving character study, as well. While it could be argued that Anderson has bitten off more than he can chew -- a few too many of the men and women populating his film are left half-developed -- an overambitious approach is always preferable to the alternative, and Boogie Nights does enough things right that it's easy to overlook its few shortcomings.

    One of the movie's greatest, and most immediately obvious, assets is its ability to capture the feel and mood of the late '70s and early '80s. At different times throughout the film, Anderson uses long, single takes where the camera pans from one character to another, putting the viewer in the midst of a swirl of activity. The director also has a talent for picking just the right songs for each scene, making the soundtrack an integral part of the movie rather than just a jumbled collection of old disco hits. Add to that the hairdos, clothing, decor, and attitudes of the era, and you have an effective re-creation of recent history. And, unlike The Ice Storm, which transpires in '70s suburbia, Boogie Nights is set in the sleazy heart of Los Angeles' drug-and-sex industry.

    Anderson also does a wonderful job of delineating the differences between the late '70s and the early '80s. The first half of the film, which takes place between 1977 and late 1979, is lively and energetic, with the focus on parties and good times. Then, following a pivotal sequence at a 1979/80 New Year's Eve gathering, Boogie Nights' tone shifts to something more grim and contentious. The porn industry goes into a downward spiral with mass-market video supplanting carefully-made movies, and the actors and directors are sucked down with it. Drugs and death run rampant. No one dies during the movie's first half (although there is a drug overdose), but the final hour features a body count.

    At Boogie Nights' center is Eddie Adams (Mark Wahlberg), a waiter at a San Fernando Valley night club who is "discovered" by idealistic porn movie producer/director Jack Horner (Burt Reynolds). Jack's dream is to make a movie that is "true, and right, and dramatic," and his vision excites Eddie, who changes his name to Dirk Diggler and quickly becomes the hottest young stud in the industry. Together, the director and his star seek to elevate the Adult Film to the next level (which actually resembles a cheap exploitation action flick).

    Although Mark Wahlberg has the starring role, and gives the best performance of his career (although there are still times when he is stiff), he is easily overshadowed by two more impressive portrayals. Burt Reynolds, doing his best motion picture work in recent memory, develops Jack into a three-dimensional individual who really believes in his job until disillusionment hits. Matching Reynolds' performance step-by-step is Julianne Moore, who can add her role in Boogie Nights to an ever-increasing list of interesting and challenging characters. Meanwhile, Heather Graham, Don Cheadle, and William H. Macy are impressive in smaller parts (all of them deserve more screen time). And porn icon Nina Hartley gets some mainstream exposure, and even a few lines, as Little Bill's wife.

    Boogie Nights is filled with so many subplots and secondary themes that it would be impossible to recount them all here. Some of the most obvious involve the allure of stardom and the price certain individuals are willing to pay to attain it, the difficulty of "rehabilitating" one's name after being associated with something as "damaging" as the porn industry, and the inner need to belong. All of the men and women populating Boogie Nights encounter at least one of these elements as they traverse their character arc.

    With Boogie Nights, Anderson has realized the potential he showed in his previous feature, Hard 8 (which featured John C. Reilly and Philip Baker Hall, two members of this movie's ensemble cast). Boogie Nights is a dramatically rich and visually arresting motion picture that has earned (and is deserving of) comparisons to the films of Robert Altman. The result is a memorably penetrating motion picture.
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  3. OLuc
    Jul 27, 2006
    10
    Sometimes, I come back to this movie and I think about it, and I wonder, "Why isn't this movie being praised as well as othe movies of Sometimes, I come back to this movie and I think about it, and I wonder, "Why isn't this movie being praised as well as othe movies of it's era, like Fargo, or Titanic?" More and more I wonder why people look more towards Quentin Tarantino then P.T. Anderson when it comes to directing, because this movie is just one of those movies that really is brought togethor by the film's atomesphere and screenplay, which were both done by Anderson. This movie is better than what many grade it to be, so if you like Robert Altman, than see Boogie Nights, the modern-day Nashville! Collapse
  4. Dec 27, 2013
    9
    So full of energy is this film that the two and a half hours goes by in the blink of an eye it seems P T Anderson has a talent for keepingSo full of energy is this film that the two and a half hours goes by in the blink of an eye it seems P T Anderson has a talent for keeping his audiences engaged for a longer period of time, as Magnolia, his 3 hour long epic montage, is one of the most interesting films I've seen. In Boogie Nights, Mark Wahlberg and Julianne Moore offer exciting and brave performances, charging head on into the film's courageous and teasing sexual controversy. This is a brave film that will pleasantly embarrass and secretly intrigue any audience. The soundtrack and cinematography keeps this film pulsing and exciting, and P T Anderson's sheer talent holds this near-perfect film together as an outrageous and alive masterpiece. Expand
  5. Jun 20, 2013
    9
    Paul Thomas Anderson is one of the great film makers of our time. Boogie Nights isn't my favorite P T Anderson film, but all his films are soPaul Thomas Anderson is one of the great film makers of our time. Boogie Nights isn't my favorite P T Anderson film, but all his films are so strong that I still can't go lower than a 9. Expand
  6. Dec 2, 2015
    9
    There are some deep moments in this movie & lots of hidden secrets to the plot. The movie delivers & will entertain you. The plot line isThere are some deep moments in this movie & lots of hidden secrets to the plot. The movie delivers & will entertain you. The plot line is really good & after watching this movie I found myself thinking about how everything plays out. Expand
  7. Dec 6, 2015
    4
    I guess I am not a Paul Thomas Anderson guy. His movies never attracted me and trust me, I tried very hard. I am sorry PT Anderson, I love youI guess I am not a Paul Thomas Anderson guy. His movies never attracted me and trust me, I tried very hard. I am sorry PT Anderson, I love you but somehow your movies are not for me. Expand

See all 37 User Reviews

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