Boogie Nights

Bomb Rating: 

I'd rather spend my 180 minutes seeing how hard a 400-poundgorilla can tighten a vise around my penis before I pass out from the pain.

If somebody asks me whether I'd like to sit still for three hours and experience wandering camera shots, undisciplined storytelling, X-rated films minus the penetration and blaring disco music, my answer is simple: I'd rather spend my 180 minutes seeing how hard a 400-pound gorilla can tighten a vise around my penis before I pass out from the pain.

Director Paul Thomas Anderson has taken "Goodfellas" and replaced the mafia with the porno industry. You think Scorsese overdid it with that one restaurant scene in which the camera follows everybody around for what seems like forever? Anderson has an even bigger hard-on for the extended tracking shot. There's even one that drops into a pool for no apparent reason. There are so many of these damn things that fifteen minutes into the film it's unclear whether we're watching an original movie or a "Touch of Evil" tribute.

This story barely has enough material to support a ninety-minute film, but Anderson thinks he has something so important to say that it's worth three hours of your time. He's the cinematic version of that guy at a party who goes on and on and on and just won't shut up. The whole dysfunctional family thing gets old after about half an hour, as everyone seeks something they can't have. Dirk Diggler (Mark Wahlberg) wants fame and fortune. Jack Horner (Burt Reynolds) wants to make quality X-rated films. Amber Waves (Julianne Moore) wants her child back. Rollergirl (Heather Graham) wants respect. Buck Swope (Don Cheadle) wants a real life.

It seems to me that these retrospective films are no more than bad excuses to sell bad soundtracks. There are some 42 songs played in this film, which translates into continuous music for about 170 minutes. If I had gone to a '70s-themed party of my own accord and the host had played that much disco without giving me a chance to breathe, I would have made every attempt to pop an eight-track tape into his skull.

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