Boogie Nights

  • Directors: Paul Thomas Anderson
  • Producers: Paul Thomas Anderson, Lawrence Gordon, Lloyd Levin
  • Writers: Paul Thomas Anderson
  • Genres: Drama
  • Actors: Mark Wahlberg, Burt Reynolds, Julianne Moore

Handsome but naïve high school dropout Eddie Adams (Mark Wahlberg), emotionally abused by his domineering, alcoholic mother, is discovered by porn director Jack Horner (Burt Reynolds) at a suburban club owned by Maurice Rodríguez (Luis Guzmán). He then gives himself the screen name of Dirk Diggler, whose extraordinary endowment and youthful charisma make him an instant award-winning star in the adult entertainment business. His success allows him to buy a new house, an extensive wardrobe, and his most prized possession: an orange Chevrolet Corvette. Aware of Jack’s goal of making films that draw audience members with their plots as much as their sex scenes, Dirk and his best friend/fellow porn star Reed Rothchild (John C. Reilly), who aspires to be a magician, suggest a series of action films starring themselves as Brock Landers and Chest Rockwell. The film series become a runaway success.

Assistant director Little Bill (William H. Macy) is married to a porn star (Nina Hartley) who constantly humiliates him by having sex, frequently in public, with other men. At a New Year’s Eve party marking the start of the 1980s, he shoots her and her lover and then turns the gun on himself in front of the guests. This marks a major turning point, as most of the characters’ lives take a turn for the worse as the new decade begins. The film moves from one character to another, showing their attempts to make lives for themselves in the adult film industry and their failures when they leave it. Jack’s porn empire flounders after his main source of funding, Colonel James (Robert Ridgely), is imprisoned for possession of child pornography. His new financier, Floyd Gondoli (Philip Baker Hall), insists on cutting costs by shooting on videotape, a format that Jack detests. He is also unhappy with the lack of scripts and character development in the projects Gondoli expects him to churn out as quickly as possible. He tries to revitalize his career by having Rollergirl (Heather Graham) ride with him in a limousine while they search for random strangers to have sex with her in the back seat while a crew tapes it. When the man they choose insults Rollergirl and rudely tells Jack his movies aren’t good anymore, Jack and Rollergirl severely beat him and leave him bleeding and half-conscious on the street.

Now addicted to cocaine and methamphetamine, Dirk finds it increasingly difficult to achieve an erection and frequently falls into violent mood swings. He has a falling out with Jack during a film shoot, and he and Reed decide to pursue their dream of rock and roll stardom, a move supported by Scotty (Philip Seymour Hoffman), a gay boom operator who adores and emulates Dirk. However, their addictions lead them to squander all their money and render them unable to pay the recording studio for the demo tapes. Desperate for money, Dirk tries to prostitute himself with a man, but he is assaulted and robbed by a gang of thugs in a homophobic assault. Dirk, Reed and their friend Todd (Thomas Jane) attempt to scam Rahad Jackson (Alfred Molina) by selling him a half-kilo of baking soda disguised as cocaine for $5,000, and Todd is killed in an ensuing gunfight. Frightened by his brush with death and weary of his wasteful existence, Dirk reconciles with Jack. The film ends with several characters living in Jack’s house as their own version of a family.

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