Off the Shelf: 'Boogie Nights'

Reported by: James Eppler
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Updated: 6/29/2012 10:48 am

This weekend in theaters you have Mark Wahlberg in "Ted" going up against naked dudes in "Magic Mike." So why not revisit a terrific movie that has a lot of both?

"Boogie Nights" (1997)
Writer/Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
Stars: Mark Wahlberg, Burt Reynolds, Julianne Moore, John C. Reilly, William H. Macy, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Heather Graham, Don Cheadle. Who's not in this movie?

What's it about?
A guy (Wahlberg) with a certain physical gift rockets to the heights of fame in the California porn industry. We follow him through the 1970s into the 80s. A seasoned director (Reynolds should have won the Oscar) takes the kid under his wing, only to watch him turn into a coked-out diva on a path of self-destruction. It works best as a dark comedy and a satire of fame.

What's good about it?.
The cast. It's filled with some of the best in the business and they are outstanding in these richly-written roles. The screenplay by Anderson is often hilarious and sometimes heartbreaking. He does a wonderful job of navigating the film's drastic shift in tones, and as a director he captures the different moods of the changing decades.
I also love movies about making movies - even dirty ones. While "Boogie Nights" doesn't shy away from the underbelly of the porn industry, it never quite feels seedy.        

What's the best scene?
Never before has the music of Rick Springfield been used to build tension so tautly.

Fun Facts:

-The film had a trimming of 40 seconds to get from an NC-17 to an R-rating.

-Leonardo DiCaprio was the first choice to play the lead, but turned it down because he was already committed to something called "Titanic." He suggested Wahlberg to replace him.

EPPLER'S RATING: * * * * *

Out of five stars

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