Quick-Thoughts: Paul Thomas Anderson’s Boogie Nights (1997)

2nd Viewing

Watching Boogie Nights is like being thrown down a flight of stairs, only to be immediately helped up by a flock of A-class, joke-cracking comedians who manage to cheer you up through hardy fellowships, but then for them to suddenly pick you up and throw you down another flight of stairs. Owie.

Paul Thomas Anderson WOULD be the type of deviant to carefully craft a maneuvering critique on the corrupt business of young fame and the media’s greed yet the public’s hypocritical detestation for sexual gratification that, as a side mission, happens to be both the funniest and one of the most depressing movies late 90s cinema had to offer. If it weren’t for the pre-climax’s overreaching state of affairs that it puts its many characters into as they spiral downward into a post-stardom world of suffering, Boogie Nights would, indeed, be damn close to a perfect motion picture. 

But seriously, what eminences are impossible to leave out of a Boogie Nights review? 

The killer soundtrack—The Emotion’s Best of My Love, Chakachas’ Jungle Fever, Melanie’s Brand New Key, Elvin Bishop’s Fooled Around and Fell in Love, KC and the Sunshine Band’s Boogie Shoes, Rick Springfield Jessie’s Girl, Nena’s 99 Luftballons, The Beach Boys’ God Only Knows, Electric Light Orchestra’s Livin’ Thing, etc. 

The killer characters—a young Bruce-Lee enthusiast with big dreams, a wealthy artist who can sell but can’t paint, a loving mother without a child, John C. Reilly playing John C. Reilly, cinema’s ultimate cuck, a cowboy fighting to discover himself, a nightclub owner with hopes of being a pornstar, a confused woman who doesn’t know whether she loves her roller-skates or her own self more, and a closeted friend in love.

And, last but certainly not least, the killer PTA dialogue, fancy-pants editing, the Scorsese-inspired vibes, and care-riddled shooting—all HAIL the long takes and all HAIL the quote: “I want to f***! It’s my big dick! So everybody get f***in’ ready now!”

Verdict Change: A+ —> A

Paul Thomas Anderson Ranked

“Boogie Nights” is now available to stream on Showtime, iTunes, Vudu, and Google Play.

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