I’m constantly being bombarded by people telling him “you haven’t seen ____? You gotta check it out.” Or hearing critics rave “this movie is a classic, a must see.” So I decided that from now on every time I actually watch one of these flicks, I’ll write my take on whether the film lived up to the hype or fell short.
Boogie Nights, Paul Thomas Anderson’s second film, is amazingly well done for a movie made that early in someone’s career. The impressive opening shot shows Jack Horner, a porn director (Burt Reynolds), walking into a night club with the owner (Luis Guzman). It is all one take and passes in and out of the mob of people inside. It showcases the era the film takes place during, characters that you will see later in the movie, and the environment that these people live in. It says a lot about what you can expect and the film delivers.
Boogie Nights is really good at balancing out the tense dramatic moments with humor and a few instances of everything turning out alright. I found myself often preparing for the worst and sometimes being relieved with the scene’s outcome. This really drew me in while maintaining my level of interest because I was never sure exactly where the story was heading. In addition to this, there were so many good characters in the film that every storyline felt like it had equal weight to Dirk’s storyline.
The movie also balances the serious things happening to everyone with humor – the two elements almost in conjunction with each other. One scene you’ll see horrible things happening to Dirk and/or his associates and then five minutes later they’ll be involved in something that is humorous in a dry way. It was conflicting when characters are beating themselves up over their mistakes and you feel bad for them but then in a few scenes they are being ridiculous and you can laugh at them. It seems almost impossible to be able to laugh at these characters when you recall what they’ve gone through. However, since the movie takes place over a long period of time it really makes them feel like fully fleshed out characters.
The cast for the film is top notch. It is varied and filled with actors that are known for giving amazing performances. Mark Wahlberg, John C. Reilly, Burt Reynolds, Julianne Moore, and Don Cheadle would be a good cast on their own but then the list goes on with Philip Seymour Hoffman, William H. Macy, Luis Guzman, Philip Baker Hall, Alfred Molina, and Thomas Jane. All of the characters have a defined place in the film and add to the total movie. The story flows seamlessly regardless of the large cast.
Despite its length, Boogie Nights is packed solid with great scenes, well written characters and a great soundtrack. I’ve always heard the movie held in great regards and it is clear why that is. The individual parts of this movie come together to create something unique.