Director Paul Thomas Anderson has yet to make a movie that has disappointed me in any way, shape or form. The way he commands yet another truly talented ensemble cast is incredible, and one of the prime reasons his 1997 Boogie Nights is such a big hit. A tremendous cast morphs with a great script and some promising direction from some early Anderson direction in a story that follows a group of individuals with overlapping stories. A great ensemble leads a charged-up film from the early days of Anderson.
Opening by bringing us a fairly big chunk of backstory to that of Marky Mark’s performance as Eddie Adams, it’s a shame that a large amount of this detail is left out immediately afterwards. It felt like Boogie Nights was preparing a larger angle for the mother and son communication that sees Eddie struggle with the lack of a mother-like figure. Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be the case, and what begins as an interesting sub-plot is soon forgotten about as soon as Wahlberg leaves to venture into the world of the porn industry.
Anderson doesn’t shy away from that seedy feeling the 70s produced in its darker areas, the greyish pastiche of a heavy hitting soundtrack of classic tunes from the time period and an unfiltered look at a morally ambiguous world is truly entertaining. He relies on great performances, with the standout of course being the late Burt Reynolds. An incredible performance that manages to give him a role that places his abilities as a supporting actor on a great pedestal of quality. He plays mentor figure and porn director Jack Horner with such tenacity it’s hard not to invest in him right away.
The rest of the cast do wonderful work also, with Wahlberg’s superb performance keeping a nice balance of emotive and classy. Anderson unfortunately misses out on any tear-jerking scenes or even ones that may invest an audience on a level that is more than a solely entertaining one. He managed to do so with the likes of Punch-Drunk Love and even The Master, but here his candid touch is lacking, instead paving the way for some typecast breaking performances from John C. Reilly and Heather Graham.
With such a large cast, it’s impressive that so many characters are given the right balance of time and engaging dialogue. Don Cheadle in particular has an entire subplot different to anything that is going on in the movie, yet his limited interactions with the main cast and his appearances in background shots make it seem like he’s as relevant to the main story as ever. Cheadle gives us a great performance here, and is crucial to the film, as are the likes of Julianne Moore, William H. Macy and Phillip Seymour Hoffman. There’s a truly great mixture of talent here, providing something for every audience member possible.
A film that will guarantee a good time, Boogie Nights brings about an explosive story packed with some great lines and character development, along with superb performances from an all-star cast. Everything fits together extremely well, and although it loses out emotive impact or re-watchability, Boogie Nights is a certainly enjoyable experience that won’t linger for too long.