Boogie Nights

Movie review by
Renee Schonfeld, Common Sense Media
Boogie Nights Movie Poster Image
Parents recommendPopular with kids
Unflinching look at porn industry; lots of sex, drugs.
  • R
  • 1997
  • 156 minutes

Parents say

age 15+
Based on 15 reviews

Kids say

age 15+
Based on 12 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

A cautionary tale. Attempts to put a human face on the desperation and narcissism driving the explosive expansion of the pornography industry in the 1970s and early '80s. The film graphically shows the consequences of self-delusion, frequent drug use, and pleasure-seeking at the expense of decency and morality.

Positive Role Models & Representations

In spite of their behavior, most of the tragic characters in this film are looking for love and a family to belong to. Some of the most pathetic in this subculture try to fill the role of mother figure or father figure, with dismal results. A few, including the very young man who makes the central journey, learn valuable lessons and are "saved," at least to a degree. Vulnerable women (and men) are exploited; a variety of ethnicities are represented.


Intermittent very violent sequences in which multiple deaths occur: a murder-suicide with the perpetrator shooting himself in the mouth and blood spraying the wall behind him; lots of gunplay and on-camera bullet hits, including one lengthy scene in which a drugged-out man threatens and shoots point-blank at three young men, killing one of them; severe brutal beatings that include head-stomping, kicking, roller skates as weapons, gang attacks. In addition, there are several drug overdoses, with lots of blood pouring from the mouth and nose of the victims.


Nudity (including full frontal, male and female) and sexual activity are frequent. The film shows intercourse, oral sex, group sex, masturbation, voyeurism, a long take on a porn star's giant penis (a prosthetic was used for the filming) and references to child pornography. Sexual sequences are either intimate or performed in the process of shooting the porn films. A violent episode occurs when a young man is perceived as homosexual. In a great many scenes, women (and men) are portrayed as sexual objects.


Nonstop obscene language, swearing, and slurs. Countless uses of "f--k" and "s--t" in multiple forms. Vulgar language is used for body parts, bodily functions, women, and homosexuals (i.e., "d--k," "c--k," "c--t," "piss," "tits," "whore").


Fresca, Polaroid, Vince's Gym.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Many scenes of pot, pills, and graphic cocaine use (including more than one bloody coke overdose). A very long scene shows a drug-crazed addict turning very violent. Alcohol flows, drunkenness is rampant. Cigars and cigarettes accompany most scenes.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Boogie Nights is a movie for adults with extensive sexuality, drug use, violence, and vulgar language. Sexual acts (some with full nudity) occur throughout with startling realism. Vivid depictions of drug use and addiction are intense and purposefully wrenching. Characters suffer brutal beatings and are killed both by gunfire and drug overdose (there's no skimping on the bloody aftermath in either instance). Language is harsh and unrelentingly obscene.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byUgo Review October 8, 2020

Not that bad

This movie felt really like a Tarantino movie.

I first watched this when I was 13 years old, which a lot of peapole might say is way to young. I would disagre... Continue reading
Adult Written byMovieguy26562626 June 3, 2021
Kid, 12 years old April 25, 2021

Great; highly recommend

This movie is graphic. Let's get that out of the way. But most 13+ have seen actual porn (and don't be like "oh, not my kid" because you don... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byClorox bleach January 2, 2021

Exposes the porn industry

Kids 11 and up probably have seen actual porn so this will be fine for them. This whole movie is about the porn industry.

What's the story?

BOOGIE NIGHTS details the swift rise to stardom of Dirk Diggler (Mark Wahlberg) whose large physical endowment and refreshing innocence make him the bright light of the late 1970s porn industry. Along with his success, Dirk gains access to the extended "family" he's long been missing. In the home and arms of Jack Horner (Burt Reynolds) and Amber Waves (Julianne Moore -- truly astonishing in an early role), Dirk finds warmth, security, love, and a host of vivid characters and friendships. It isn't long, however, until self-delusion, narcissism, and a changing industry plunge them all into an abyss of brutality, fear, and self-destruction.

Is it any good?

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.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the nature of tragedy in this film. Discuss some examples of internal (self-generated) and external forces working together to bring a character to the edge of destruction. Why do you think some characters survive and others don't?

  • This movie can be described as a cautionary tale. Does the characters' shocking behavior make you think about the consequences of risky lifestyle choices?

  • How much realistic violence, sex, language, etc. do you think is necessary to make a point? Where would you draw the line?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love dramatic thrills

Themes & Topics

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