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Parents' Guide to

Boogie Nights

By Renee Longstreet, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 18+

Unflinching look at porn industry; lots of sex, drugs.

Movie R 1997 156 minutes
Boogie Nights Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 17+

Based on 16 parent reviews

age 16+

An unflinching, shockingly real and vivid depiction on the porn industry is best for mature teens.

Boogie Nights (1997) follows Eddie, a kid who is convinced by his parents he has no talent. He is without a purpose and alone in the world until he enters the porn industry where he excitedly plans to display his true talent. Here we meet other vulnerable people in the same spot as Eddie. After this, the film spirals down a loop of incessant sex, drug abuse and violence and shows the true t reality of the porn industry. The reason why I give this film a lower age rating is simply because Boogie Nights does not glorify its explicit sex or drug use, and uses it as a warning and to teach. Expect constant graphic sex scenes throughout with strong nudity and explicit dialogue, painfully realistic and explicit scenes of drug use, several scenes of strong/bloody violence, and pervasive language. VIOLENCE: SEVERE A (presumably) teenage girl is shown lying on the ground with blood gushing from her nose and face after she overdosed on cocaine. She begins to spasm and shake rigorously on the floor as she seizes. An enraged man finds his wife having sex with another man, and in response he retrieves a gun and murders them both. He is shown pointing and shooting the gun multiple times as their shadows fall down. Then, unexpectedly, he sticks the gun in his mouth and shoots splattering blood and matter all over the wall behind him. This is shocking and graphic. A man desperately masturbates himself at another man’s command before being cornered by several other men by doing so. They scream and call him a “faggot” before brutally beating and kicking him to the ground. Blood is shown all over his face as he writhes in pain and the scene is prolonged and distressing. A man is repeatedly beaten and kicked. Blood shoots out of his mouth and comes out all over his face as he lays on the ground in pain. Then, a girl with roller skates on approaches him and violently stomps his face with the roller skates shown in a up-close and high impact shot. This is done multiple times before the woman is dragged away and the man lays on the ground with blood pouring from his nose as he slightly moves around. During an armed robbery of a donut shop, a man is shot in the chest. On his way to the ground, he shoots the other man in the chest also making a large bloody bullet hole. Then, as this man dies he accidentally fires the gun into the cashiers head blasting it open and splattering blood all over the table and the man standing in front of it. The man stands in terror covered in blood as the camera pans over the blood soaked crime scene. A man is suddenly shot in the shoulder before another man takes out two guns and begins shooting up the entire house. Two men get into cover before the man (who was previously shot) shoots the gunman multiple times. Finally, the man kicks a door open and is shot in the stomach with a shotgun making a huge bloody splatter on his stomach and sending him flying. The man with the shotgun shoots at the two other men, but they get away. The violence is occasionally strong and bloody, and sometimes milder and less severe. LANGUAGE: SEVERE 164 uses of fuck, 23 uses of shit, 7 uses of cock, 4 uses of dick, 9 uses of ass, many uses of bitch and pussy, 3 uses of tits, numerous uses of cum and other slang terms for ejaculation, many uses of slut, whore, damn, goddamn and hell. There are explicit and graphic sexual conversations. SEXUAL CONTENT: SEVERE Because this is a film about pornography and sex, there are countless sex scenes. In fact, too many to count off of the top of my head. A man inspects the bulge of his crotch in the mirror. This cuts to a sequence where he (clothed in underwear) straddles a clothed woman in bed. He stands up and she comments on his penis using crude terms. A man walks in on his wife and another man having sex. The woman (fully nude) with her breasts and nipples exposed thrusts on top of the man. They stop, and then she tells him to keep going and he does. A man tells a teenage girl and boy to have sex. They are both 17 at the time. The man watching this tells the man to “aim it at her tits” and then the girl takes off all of her clothes graphically exposing her fully nude with her breasts and pubic region including part big hair visible. She gets on top of the man and they begin kissing in a sexual position but it cuts before the start of actual sex. A man and a woman are shown having sex on the ground of a pool party. Countless people stand over them watching. They are both clearly fully nude, yet the man’s buttocks are most apparently seen. The thrusting is shown up close and then the sex act is shown for the rest of the scene (which is long) slightly out of focus with clear sexual movements. In what can easily be considered the most sexually explicit film, a man has his first porn shoot which is shown in great detail explicitly across several minutes. The scene begins with conversation about where the man should ejaculate or “cum”. The woman tells him he can come wherever he wants but preferably on her “tits”. The scene starts with strong sexual dialogue and then they undress and begin kissing. They are both fully nude, yet the man’s bare buttocks and the woman’s bare breasts are extensively visible. He appears to aim his penis into her below camera view and then starts graphically thrusting upwards. This is shown from multiple angles over the course of around 3 and a half minutes as explicit close ups of the woman’s erect nipples and the man’s bare clenched buttocks are shown as cameras film all over and the set begins work. The thrusting lasts throughout the scene until eventually the woman tells him to “cum” inside of her, which he does as he begins thrusting into her and orgasms while still inside of her. Afterwards, there is a dilemma over the porn shot of the ejaculation and whether it needed a reshoot. This is a very extended and explicit scene. There are numerous sexual scenes on the set of porn that are shown that heavily imply sexual activity or show the events before sex. These scenes almost always include nude women with their bare breasts or buttocks, or even full frontal nudity visible, porn sets and graphic dialogue. Some scenes show women in sexual positions and show movements of sex but not fully. One scene shows a woman asking a man, “fuck me in the ass” which it is implied he does. In another scene, a man licks a woman’s erect nipple. In one scene, two nude women with their large unnatural breasts exposed can be seen and it is implied they perform sexual acts on each other or a man. There are multiple scenes where oral sex is depicted. A woman kneels down and unzips a man’s pants, we see a woman’s head bobbing up and down below the belt as the man’s pleasured face is seen, a man is implied to be recovering oral sex because of his facial expressions and movement below the camera where he aims a gun while moaning loudly. A man begins masturbating in the mirror but struggles to get an erection/ejaculate. He forcefully makes jerking motions onto his crotch but is enraged that he can no longer perform. Many implied sex scenes with nudity. A random man is picked up on the side of the road to have sex with a woman. They begin to have rough sex in the back of the vehicle with the man’s buttocks visible as he forcefully thrusts seen from the lenses of a camera. The filmmaker recording this repeatedly yells to be careful and to not go as hard but he continues. Eventually, the man begins ridiculing the girl and mocks her before leaving because he is mad she left him with an erection and not letting him finish. A man is brought to a secluded location by another man and commanded to masturbate for 10 dollars. He begins to masturbate making jerking motions, but struggles to “get it hard” as the man watching creepily tells him to go faster. This goes awry when it is revealed to be a setup to beat him for being gay. A man unzips his fly and shows his large penis in a mirror. It is shown graphically for several seconds before he puts it back in his pants and leaves. This is in the closing seconds of the film and the penis is exposed fully for the seconds before the end credits. DRUG CONTENT: SEVERE There are countless, graphic and explicit scenes of drug use and abuse throughout the film. This becomes more extreme and hard to watch as the film progresses and can be painful due to the realism. In countless scenes, characters abuse cocaine. They snort it in lines constantly and get high off of it. Characters addicted to the drug begin to be manic and look horrible falling into desperation. At one point, a character tries the drug for the first time and thinks it is gross when he tastes and feels chemicals going down his throat. The woman snorting it with him says that it’s just the drip, and is the best part. There is a faked drug deal scene and many of these scenes where the drug is used can be perverse and hard to look at. In one scene, two characters snort meth. They talk about how high it’s getting them before one character acts irrational and erratic. Weed is shown being smoked and alcohol is shown being used. Smoking is present throughout. Overall very strong and graphic. 16-17+ for graphic sexual content, explicit dialogue, pervasive language, strong violence strong graphic drug use and graphic nudity

This title has:

Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
age 18+
Not for kids. Not something kids or adults need to watch

This title has:

Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (16 ):
Kids say (12 ):

In efforts to portray a subculture with roots in all human excess, self-delusion, and narcissism, Boogie Nights leaves nothing to the imagination: It's all right there on screen. Paul Thomas Anderson has elicited an amazing supporting cast doing first rate work (Philip Seymour Hoffman, Alfred Molina, John C. Reilly, Don Cheadle, among others). The characters brim with energy, gallows humor, and gain our unexpected empathy even as we watch them go down in flames. Be prepared for an exhilarating movie -- not for the faint of heart or squeamish -- memorable not only for its in-your-face sex, drugs, and violence, but for its compassionate heart.

Movie Details

  • In theaters: October 8, 1997
  • On DVD or streaming: April 7, 1998
  • Cast: Burt Reynolds , Julianne Moore , Mark Wahlberg
  • Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
  • Inclusion Information: Female actors
  • Studio: New Line
  • Genre: Drama
  • Run time: 156 minutes
  • MPAA rating: R
  • MPAA explanation: strong sex scenes with explicit dialogue, nudity, drug use, language and violence
  • Last updated: August 10, 2023

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