Finally, after a month long hiatus from the movie theater, Mike and
I were able to arrange our schedules and manage our time correctly
for a triumphant return to the wild world o' film! The big question on everyone's mind, no doubt, is "Which movie ushered you into the next year's block of cinematic wonder?" Or, well, it might have if I hadn't put the title up at the top of the page already. Hm. Well, hypothetically speaking, I imagine you're asking this question. My answer to you? A very bad choice.
It doesn't happen often, but you know, I made a mistake, an error in judgment. I don't remember where or in which movie I saw this, but
the few trailers that had popped up for Boogie Nights really didn't look that bad. Its surrounding world was the pornographic film industry, true, but the trailers made it quite obvious that this was a character driven film, and I have a horrible weakness for character driven films. Two other points in favour of going to see this verses, say, As Good As It Gets, were (1) It had just received at least one Oscar nomination and (2) This was its last night on the screen. Video rentals being so ridiculously overpriced, odds are that if I didn't see it now, I wouldn't see it at all.
Sadly, I would have missed precious little.
It's hard to say when I became disenchanted with the movie, but I think it was right around the time the movie's star, whose name I've blocked out, told Burt Reynolds that it would be $10 to watch him jack off. That would place us at approximately seven minutes after the movie began. Hell, even Starship Troopers kept me interested longer than that.
I'd like to blame my dislike for the movie on its overly gratuitous use of sex, but hell, it was about the pornographic film industry, what did I expect? No, it wasn't the sex or the drugs (which I found myself becoming completely jaded to before long ... I'd like to attribute this as a technique of the movie creators, letting the viewers experience how inconsequential it is to the people who are actually a part of this world, but I honestly believe I'd be giving them too much credit). It was the utter lack of anyone truly LIKEABLE in this movie.
Let's take a moment to reflect on the characters that we meet in the course of the film, shall we?
Such a charming cast, wouldn't you agree? Delightful characters. And you know that I've really left myself precious little to expound on in terms of a plot. Because it WASN'T really a plot, it was more a series of snippits out of several people's lives who all kinda sorta new each other and loosely stiched them together. I got the feeling throughout that the editing crew got drunk one night and cut bits out at random from the finished product for a laugh.
- Eddie turned Dirk Diggler, the new kid on the block who turns into an overnight pornographic star due in no small part to his unusually large ... part. You get my meaning, I'm sure. "Everyone is blessed with one special thing," he muses. It's a shame that all of his talent lies below the belt, because while that might have made him a pornographic star, this was supposedly a more cerebral movie and it just couldn't carry the film. As stated above, I have no idea what the name of this actor is, and I have no inclination whatsoever to find out.
- His friend. I'm failing on both character name (Reed?) and actor name here, although the actor looked eerily like Colm Meany of Star Trek: The Next Generation fame at times. If I liked any character, I guess it was this one, although to be honest with you, I think I was just frantically looking for SOMEONE to like in the film and I latched onto an almost familiar face. Sadly, after a moment or two of thought, I can't come up with anything else to say on the character. Oh no, wait, he liked to do magic tricks when not "at work". There you go, defining character trait.
- Amber Waves. Lovely name, ne? If there was a tragic character, then this was it, and I would have liked her more if she hadn't been so very weak. I'd put the character in her 40s, which I would imagine is a wee bit old for the job she did, but it was no more
unbelievable than anything else that went on in the film. She was a divorced mother, who was being denied visitation rights for her son. A later court decision leaves her crying her heart and soul out, and I would have felt bad for her if the next scene didn't show her snorting about 10 lines of coke and never mentioning her son for the rest of the movie, seeming perfectly content to "adopt", for lack of a better word, Dirk and Rollergirl as her "children". Well, neglecting the fact that she'd have sex with them, too, should the script call for it. One big, happy, dysfunctional family.
- Rollergirl. I almost liked her. Really I did. As her name indicates, she's a fan of roller skates. So much so that she never takes them off. Never. For any reason. I guess everyone has to
have a gimmick. Anyway, as stated, I almost liked her. She had an air of innocence about her that not even Eddie had, pre-Dirk Diggler. That was until I saw her ... well, I won't go into that, suffice it to say that my impression didn't last long enough. But she started out promising, in high school during a final when she begins to be suggestively harassed by a male classmate and storms, or skates, out of class, never to return as you later find out. Although how she got offended after some of the things I saw her do, I'll never know. Again, maybe that was a point that was being made, but it felt like nothing but a conflicting plot point and completely invalidated the character for me.
- Buck was your token black man, and I feel he was probably used for that very often, although he's one of the few characters that you never actually see "working." He's a true fish out of water, a "black sheep," if you'll excuse the horrible pun. He's a "damn fine actor," and yet he can never land a job outside of pornographic films. He loves music, but he's stuck on country instead of the hip and groovy disco scene. His fashion choices include cowboy suits and boots instead of real fake Italian print nylon shirts and bellbottoms. You never see him have sex, you never see him do drugs, you only ever see him dancing even more oddly than the disco dancers and sitting by himself at parties. He's the only one of the group of characters who ever tries to "go straight" and break out of the pornography industry, and I admired him for that, but you never had time to get to really KNOW him. And this was a major failing for Boogie Nights. The characters with potential never got shown, and those that did had nothing going for them.
- Jack Horner, played by Burt Reynolds, was certainly a stand-out character. Sadly, that says precious little when you think about the characters you're comparing him to. I'd like to say that I liked Jack, but I didn't. I didn't DISlike him, more like he was yet another victim of the apathetic mood the movie dug me into. He was a director with a vision, in his own mind at least. While his terminology was considerably cruder, his essential goal was to create a pornographic film which would entice the viewer to come, not just for the sex, but for the story. ... That was almost a bad pun again, I'm very sorry. It's an admirable goal I suppose, although I can't say that he ever achieves it (at least not in my eyes), despite the fact he believes he does. I think the most interesing thing I found about Jack was the die job done on his beard.
- Other assorted minor characters. Scott the gay crew member who makes a rejected pass at Dirk which is never dealt with or referred to ever again after it happens. Todd the stripper (at least I think he was a stripper, he mumbled so much I barely understood him), who befriends Dirk and his friend when they're down on their luck. He gets shot later. The Colonal James, producer for Jack's movies and pedophile. Last but not least, Little Bill (played by William H.
Macy. Sadly, I didn't have time to get excited about seeing him), who is another of Jack's crew members. His wife sleeps with everyone and anyone she can find and tells her husband to go away (in less nice terms) whenever he finds her in flagrante delecto. Which he does. Until 1980 is a mere three seconds away from arriving and Bill shoots her, her lover and himself. Happy New Year. Again, this is an event and character that is never mentioned or referred to again save for a portrait hanging in Jack's house towards the end of the movie.
It could have been good, you know. The title character was likable enough in the beginning, I suppose. And there were several side stories that peaked my interest. But in the end, I felt as though the writers and director of this movie were much like Jack Horner. They were out to make a meaningful movie and fell horribly short of their ideals.
Almost finished now, but I wanted to make just a few more brief
And so I leave with my parting comments on Boogie Nights: Don't waste your time. If you want a look at the movie industry and the toll it takes on a person see Postcards From the Edge. If you want an overview of how the nation changes over the decades, see Forest Gump. And if you want pornography, then come visit New Orleans and you'll have your pick of flicks. See Boogie Nights only if you'd like your brain to experience a similar sensation as Dirk's greatest asset under the influence of cocaine.
- How in the HELL did Burt Reynolds get an Oscar nod for this performance when Contact, the best damned movie of the year, didn't get ONE SINGLE MAJOR NOMINATION? You can just bite me,
- Gotta tell you now, I loved the music. Okay, so I'm a product of my environment - I love classic rock and I love '80s music in all it's cheesy brilliance. I could've done without some of the disco, but all in all, I enjoyed it.
- Am I misunderstanding my movie ratings, or is it not permitted to display male frontal nudity and still maintain an R-rating? Because that was the impression I was under, and apparently I was mistaken. And surprised. Quite surprised.