Boogie Nights (1997) Review

I have spoken before about how much I rate Mark Wahlberg and Boogie Nights gives me another opportunity to do that. This is a guy who started his entertainment career (as far as I’m aware) as a white rapper called Marky Mark! To most people that would be career suicide or at least a fairly sizable black mark on the CV but Wahlberg seems to be carving a decent and pretty comprehensive film career for himself.

He can easily share a film and screen time with a host of other, more established actors. In The Fighter, Wahlberg held his own alongside a brilliant Christian Bale, he also did the same in the powerhouse of a film like The Departed and can even tip his hat to comedy in movies like The Other Guys or Date Night. Boogie Nights is no different as he shares scenes with actors like Burt Reynolds, Julianne Moore and William H Macy but still manages to keep the focus of the film squarely on him.

Another great performance from a young Mark Wahlberg

It is also testament to his acting that he chose a film about the porn industry and played a character called Dirk Diggler and this was only his fifth “proper film.” Not that it isn’t a great choice because if you look past the fact that it focuses on the making of adult films, what you actually have is a film that shows the quick rise and even quicker fall of an actor in any business, but how particularly harsh that fall is in an industry as “flash-in-the-pan” as pornography.

In fact, its only the environment of the adult film industry that puts this film apart from anything else. There are plenty of films that chart an actor/singer or other entertainment industry success’ rise and then watch as they become corrupted by drugs, drink, money or woman (or a combination of any of those.) Dirk Diggler’s story is no different, it’s just got some novelty factor because it’s centered around pornography.

The issue is that this only keeps its novelty factor and appeal for a small amount of time. The film is two and half hours long and a whole middle section could have been removed. It’s not a new concept so you start to lose interest as each of the characters lives dramatically change, either for worst or better.

Reynolds is perfect as a pornography director!

It’s a real shame because the actors involved are great and the performances match each of them perfectly. Burt Reynolds steps into the director’s chair comfortably, William H Macy plays another desperate and slightly pathetic character but its something he’s mastered as an actor and Julianne Moore as the drug addicted, desperate Mother Amber is another great casting choice. The film even manages to get a decent performance out of Heather Graham whose career seems to have nose-dived since.

This film even stars Phillip Seymour Hoffman…

You have to imagine that these actors were drawn to the fact the film was set in the seventies porn industry rather than because of the underlying story it was trying to tell. I really enjoyed the first hour, got bored and nonplussed through the second and was just waiting for it to end with the last half hour which is a shame because the film has so much going for it.

Overall, this film has so many positives, another great Mark Wahlberg performance, Burt Reynolds playing a part that must have been written for him and a great setting in an interesting part of the film industry. Look past that though and within the first hour, you’ll slowly realise that the story is the same with every film set in any entertainment industry and when it reaches the second hour and is still going, you’ll soon get bored.

Rating 2.5

(1 – Awful, 2 – Average, 3 – Good, 4 – Great, 5! – Must See)

…and Don Cheadle!
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