A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
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.
- Parents say
- Kids say
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?
- In theaters: October 8, 1997
- On DVD or streaming: April 7, 1998
- Cast: Burt Reynolds, Julianne Moore, Mark Wahlberg
- Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
- Studio: New Line
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: Misfits and Underdogs
- Run time: 156 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: strong sex scenes with explicit dialogue, nudity, drug use, language and violence
- Last updated: September 21, 2019
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
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