Boogie Nights is a film that aptly embodies the extravagant decadence of morals during the disco era, while also creating empathy for the debauched innocents who find themselves caught up in a lifestyle of hard-core sex, drugs and rock and roll. Sadly, while attempting to replace the loving family relationships they are lacking and in their search for self worth, these characters pay the highest price for fame. The film deftly takes the viewer to the seedy underside of the pornography business. But, like many of the young people who find themselves entangled in it, it is first introduced as a life of each and luxury with many good times and no consequences. The film portrays the life of a unique young man who gives himself the stage name, Dirk Diggler (Mark Wahlberg). We are first introduced to this young man while his is employed as a busboy in a disco. One of the leading producers in the pornography business, Jack Horner (Burt Reynolds), takes a liking to young Dirk's looks and invites him to join his table.
One can hardly say Mr. Horner corrupted the 17 year old Dirk, who upon their first meeting openly offers himself to be viewed masturbating for the mere price of $10. Mr. Horner is portrayed as a fatherly figure who merely guides young Dirk in his natural progression to porn star. He provides the budding Dirk with an arena where he can use the only talent he recognizes having -- an exceeding large penis. The majority of the main characters are introduced in this disco setting, and the film adequately allows the viewer to understand the often familial type bonds between them, while invoking nostalgia for the colorful time and retro beats.
Upon realizing who Mr. Horner is, Dirk immediately acknowledges his respect for Mr. Horner's work. But, despite Mr. Horner's invitation to join him, he steadfastly honors his responsibility to his employer, proving himself to be a loyal, albeit misguided, average American youth. Jack leaves Dirk with an open invitation to join him because as he says, "I have a feeling there's something wonderful in those jeans just waiting to get out."
Boogie Nights is wonderfully written and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, and succeeds in introducing in its viewer to a new perspective on a world often viewed socially with scorn. After subtly choreographing the introduction of the relationships between characters, the film then highlights a slice of each individual's life, giving the viewer a further insight into their motivations and/or regrets. Each character is searching for something that is missing in their lives, and the pornography business seems to provide them with what they are lacking. This is evidenced when Dirk's need for a loving mother figure is fulfilled by Amber, who desperately wants to be reunited with her estranged son.
Amber (Julianne Moore), a veteran in the business, quickly takes Dirk under her protective maternal wing by providing him with something he has never...