Boogie Nights is director Paul Thomas Anderson's second film, and arguably one of his best. It tells the story of Eddie Adams (Mark Wahlberg), a young man who dropped out of high school so he could have more time to work. That's when he's approached by a man named Jack Horner (Burt Reynolds), a porn director who's interesting in hiring Eddie. He accepts and is soon taken to the set of his first film. From here on out, the film follows his rise and fall as a porn star through the 70s and 80s, and it does so in the most entertaining way possible.
Films about porn can be difficult. From the very few I've seen, and I mean very very few, they seem to be a rather mixed bunch. There are some great ones, such as Zack and Miri Make A Porno, and then there are some not so great ones, like Lovelace. While I enjoy Lovelace for what it is, I can completely understand why it received so much negativity. With these porn films, there's always a restriction on how graphic or explicit they can be, and that's just one of the many problems that arises when dealing with such topics. With Boogie Nights, however, there's no holding back, and because of this, as well as many other things, it's a damn awesome movie.
Taking us on this journey is a very young Marky Mark. I like Wahlberg as an actor. Sure, he's not the most reliable actor when it comes to the film's quality, but no matter how shitty his films get, and trust me when I say they can get pretty shitty, he always brings a much needed charisma and personality to the screen. In Boogie Nights, he suits the part just fine, playing a character that's trying to hide how broken he really is.
Marky Mark is great and all, although the entire cast are too, but it's Phillip Seymour Hoffman who steals the show. I had no idea he was even in this film and so when he graced us with his presence, I gave off a cheer. The moment this character comes on screen you know it's not your typical Hoffman performance, and that's probably because it's not. He steals every scene he's in, even if he doesn't speak a word. His presence is just that notable, and it damn well should be as he gives one of the most odd performances he's ever given.
I have never taken drugs in my life, nor do I intend to, but if I had to guess what a drug addiction would feel like, I think it's safe to say that watching Boogie Nights comes close. For the first hour and a half, Boogie Nights is one hell of a time. It's a deliberately showy movie, but not done so in a pretentious way. Think Scorsese-like showy. It's a riot, never slowing or relaxing, making every moment entertaining. Then a certain event happens and things start to hit the fan. The next hour is a spiralling downhill slope for these characters, and while it's not as fun, it's just as exciting to watch.
To sum up, Boogie Nights is a hilarious, non-stop riot with some absolutely outstanding performances for the first hour and a half and then a more serous, yet just as entertaining journey for the next hour.
4 1/2 Stars