Boogie Nights (1997)

This over-praised ensemble drama that thinks it's an epic, set in 
the skin flick industry of late seventies L.A., ostensibly stars 
Mark Wahlberg (TRAVELLER, FEAR) as a troubled teen whose "natural 
endowment" attracts the attention of a renowned pornographer and, 
soon enough, has him plunging little-headfirst into the increasing-
ly intoxicating world of sex, drugs, and disco.  No, it's not the 
year's best movie-- not by a 13-inch long shot-- but it *is* frank, 
funny, and surprisingly poignant.  (And, at times, quite exciting, 
with several exceptionally energized sequences, such as an explo-
sive cocaine heist that happens late in the film.)  The big dick 
problem of BOOGIE NIGHTS is an abruptly unfocused narrative, sig-
naled in the second hour by an out-of-the-blue turn by Wahlberg's 
character.  After he throws a hissy fit, we wander about for a good 
hour, never sure of which character we're following or why.  Things 
*do* improve in the final reel, however, when writer/director Paul 
Thomas Anderson (HARD EIGHT) scares several of the characters 
straight with three separate (and shocking) instances of violence.  
Still, with so many other accomplishments all under one roof-- cam-
era work, set design, soundtrack, etc.-- this has gotta be an easy 
movie to overrate.  BTW, how many of those TOUCH OF EVIL takes did 
P.T. pull off, anyway?  With Julianne Moore, John C. Reilly, Heath-
er Graham, Don Cheadle, Luis Guzman, William H. Macy, and, in one 
of his best roles in years, Burt Reynolds.  (Rated "R"/224 min.)

Grade: B

Copyright 1997 Michael J. Legeros
Movie Hell is a trademark of Michael J. Legeros

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