One of the great surprises of film is when a cinematic curveball is thrown your way. You go into a film expecting a certain feel and while the movie follow that formula early, a wrench gets thrown in and it takes a drastic turn…for better or worse. And when it comes to “Boogie Nights,” you’re really left dazed and confused.
I have to admit the plot was very original and entertaining. It focuses on the porn industry in the 70s and 80s for what I can assume is the rise and somewhat fall of the genre. While there are a ton of characters, the main one was Eddie or Dirk Diggler. He’s a complete dullard but has all the tools to succeed in the porn industry where he promptly becomes a star. But one thing his mom tells him before he starts his journey is that he is stupid.
Now you see Dirk and many other flawed characters in the business enjoying the ride assuming it will never end. Not only do they rake in the money but also Diggler becomes the star he always wanted to be. And while you see the stupidity as well as insanity that some of the characters possess, it’s hidden behind all of their success.
However the 70s ends with a bang…literally. When Little Bill finally cracks in the middle of a New Years Party, their reality is shattered. Sure they all don’t realize it right away but all of their issues come to the forefront in the 80s.
Dirk becomes jealous of a new, less talented man and the star-eyed young kid becomes an egotistical ass. And of course, he doesn’t realize it. After blowing up at Jack, he is kicked out and the movie begins to change. At first, it feels like a VH1 documentary as you see Diggler trying (hilariously) to become a singer and more. Plus John C. Reilly’s character starts acting more like what you expect from his best roles.
But while the section seems funny at first, things get very dark very fast. You have Amber finally coming to terms with the drug addictions holding her back from seeing her real son, Rollergirl’s past catching up with her and also Buck realizing that pornography and acting are not inherently the same. All of them finally have their bubbles burst and figure out they are not as respected (or smart) as they thought.
Yet the film keeps traveling down this dark path with things getting bloody including a lot of random shooting and death. Sure it’s intense and keeps you interested but I also felt like I was watching two different movies. While the ending may have been a little more uplifting, the damage was done. You were not boogieing anymore.
So maybe you’re wondering if I even liked “Boogie Nights.” Overall I did because it was entertaining and kept you hooked throughout. Now it goes a little far at points and confuses the viewer over what they’re watching but the deeply talented cast makes the movie work. It just makes you expect the unexpected from now on.
+ Danny Reiter is the producer of the Dan Sileo Show