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Site created 12/15/97.

review added: 5/3/02

Boogie Nights
Platinum Edition - 1997 (2000) - New Line

review by Adam Jahnke of The Digital Bits

Enhanced for 16x9 TVs

Boogie Nights: Platinum Edition Film Rating: A-

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): A+/A/A-

Specs and Features

Disc One: The Film
155 mins, R, letterboxed widescreen (2.40:1), 16x9-enhanced, single-sided, RSDL dual-layered (layer switch at ???), custom dual disc slip-case packaging, audio commentary (with writer/director Paul Thomas Anderson), audio commentary (with P.T. Anderson and cast members Don Cheadle, Heather Graham, Luis Guzman, William H. Macy, Julianne Moore, John C. Reilly, Mark Wahlberg and Melora Walters), music selections, color bars, Dirk Diggler makeup test Easter egg, animated film-themed menu screens with music, scene access (37 chapters), languages: English (DD 5.1 & 2.0) and French (DD 2.0), subtitles: English, French & Spanish, Closed Captioned

Disc Two: Supplemental Material
The John C. Reilly Files, 10 deleted scenes and outtakes (with optional commentary by Paul Thomas Anderson), cast and crew filmographies, character biographies and filmographies, Try music video by Michael Penn (with optional commentary by Paul Thomas Anderson), film-themed menu screens with music

Try to cast your mind back five years to 1997. Burt Reynolds was generally thought to be washed up, having just failed at his bid at a Travolta-in-Pulp-Fiction-style comeback with the '96 Demi Moore disaster Striptease. Mark Wahlberg was an underwear model better known as Marky Mark of Funky Bunch fame. A handful of hardcore movie fans had heard of Paul Thomas Anderson, having caught his debut film Hard Eight (originally titled Sidney) during the five minutes it played theatrically. And nobody thought making a mainstream movie about the porno industry was a particularly viable idea.

Then came a movie called Boogie Nights. A lot has changed in the five years since it premiered. Porn has become... well, maybe not universally accepted but certainly chic. Witness the Showtime movie Rated X or the bizarre media appearances by Ron Jeremy in support of the documentary Porn Star (surely the Hedgehog's guest spot on the ladies yakfest The View is a sign that the world has turned itself inside out). P.T. Anderson has become one of those filmmakers whose work is analyzed frame by frame by rabid fans. His next movie, Punch-Drunk Love, premieres in competition at the Cannes Film Festival this May. It stars Adam Sandler... what was I just saying about the world turning itself inside out? Mark Wahlberg has pretty much wiped out all memories of Good Vibrations and established himself as a movie star (and, like all movie stars, has proceeded to squander his talent on junk like Planet of the Apes). As for Burt Reynolds, Boogie Nights turned out to be the comeback vehicle he'd been looking for. Of course, he hasn't really capitalized on its success and today he's generally thought to be washed up. The more things change...

Five years on, Boogie Nights remains an extraordinary achievement for Anderson, both as a writer and director. His screenplay expertly juggles a huge ensemble of fascinating and distinct characters. Often with a movie this episodic, certain characters stand out and you find yourself wishing the story would get back to those folks whenever the focus shifts away from them. Boogie Nights is the rare exception where each character is as interesting as the rest. This is in no small part thanks to the consistently outstanding performances, including Julianne Moore, John C. Reilly, Philip Seymour Hoffman, William H. Macy and Melora Walters (all of whom would appear in Anderson's subsequent picture, Magnolia), along with Don Cheadle, Heather Graham and, of course, Wahlberg and Reynolds.

Boogie Nights has been released twice by New Line in their Platinum Series. The first time was a single disc affair that's virtually impossible to find anymore and, frankly, I don't know why you'd want to when you can get this spiffy two-disc set instead. The movie looks and sounds spectacular. Apparently, Anderson's dissatisfaction with the transfer of the movie on the original DVD was the primary reason for the re-release. I wasn't able to compare the two, but judging from this, when Anderson decides to do a new transfer, he doesn't mess around. This is a vibrant, gorgeous looking disc with solid colors and very little edge enhancement that I could detect. In his note to the viewer on the slipcase, Anderson asks that you turn the volume up loud. Good advice. The Dolby Digital 5.1 mix fills the room with the groovy soundtrack of 70's and 80's hits. The Rahad Jackson scene (better known as the Sister Christian scene) plunges you directly in the middle of that dizzying soundscape with spectacular results.

The supplements are pretty decent, with two commentary tracks, a bunch of deleted scenes with commentaries of their own, the music video for Try by Michael Penn (with yet another commentary that explains why it's included since the song and video have nothing to do with Boogie Nights), and the first installment of The John C. Reilly Files, a feature also found on the Magnolia DVD spotlighting Anderson's favorite actor. Personally, I prefer Anderson's solo commentary track to the actors' commentary. The second track too often devolves into a mutual admiration society between Anderson and the cast about what a privilege it was to work together. Still, the second track is looser and more amusing than the first, thanks partly to a clearly disinterested and exhausted Mark Wahlberg, so it would not surprise me to discover that my preference for the solo track is a minority opinion. There are a number of references made in the various commentaries to Exhausted, a documentary about porn star John Holmes that inspired much of Boogie Nights and was supposed to appear on this DVD. Legal issues prevented its inclusion, which is unfortunate, as it would have provided a context and basis for comparison with the film itself. Finally, Easter egg hunters and/or fans of large, prosthetic penises will definitely want to seek out the Dirk Diggler makeup test hidden on Disc One.

Boogie Nights is a sprawling, ambitious movie that hits most of the heights it reaches for. It is, perhaps, a little longer than it absolutely needed to be, but this is a minor complaint. The movie holds up to repeated viewings very well and, as such, is a welcome addition to any DVD library. And unlike some movies that have seen multiple releases on DVD (like any random Evil Dead flick), I actually believe Anderson's promise that this double disc Platinum Series is the definitive version of the movie. You can plunk down your hard-earned cash for this reasonably secure in the knowledge that New Line isn't going to sneak out yet another re-release. Even if they do, it's unlikely that they'll be able to improve on this version.

Adam Jahnke
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