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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
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
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.
Violence & Scariness
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.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
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.
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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").
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Products & Purchases
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.
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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. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
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.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.