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Film / Boogie Nights

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"I'm a star. I am a big, bright, shining star."

Boogie Nights (1997) is Paul Thomas Anderson's exploration of the '70s and '80s porn industry, focusing on a No Celebrities Were Harmed version of John Holmes named Dirk Diggler (Mark Wahlberg).

Adult film producer Jack Horner (Burt Reynolds) spots busboy Eddie Adams in one of his regular nightclubs, and in talking to him learns of both his extremely generous endowment and his quick recovery time (he has already brought himself off twice that evening for $10 a look). After a fight with his mother, Eddie runs away to accept Horner's offer of film work, and soon finds success on the screen as Dirk Diggler, the star of the Brock Landers action/porn series.

However, the luxuries this affords Diggler and his fellow actors come with a high price, especially when those luxuries begin to include increasing amounts of cocaine. Many of the actors also struggle to find success or happiness outside their adult film careers, as Dirk's co-star and mother figure Amber Waves (Julianne Moore) loses a bitter custody battle with her ex-husband, while another co-star, Rollergirl (Heather Graham), drops out of high school after her career makes her an object of cruel mockery by fellow students, and Buck Swope (Don Cheadle) is unable to secure the loan that would enable him to break into business. The industry itself is also changing with the rise of videotape, and Jack Horner's dream of making Porn with Plot is destined to fall by the wayside.

A major Growing the Beard film for Anderson that got him his Auteur License and also doubling as the Star-Making Role for Wahlberg and a Career Resurrection for Reynolds, Nights was acclaimed by both critics and audiences, and even got Anderson nominated for Best Original Screenplay.

This film provides examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: Eddie/Dirk's parents. His mother subjects him to savage verbal abuse and calls him stupid for dropping out of high school to the point of saying none of the stuff in his room is his because he didn't pay for it, all while his father does not lift a finger to interfere.
  • Affably Evil: The Colonel. At first he's a friendly, charming older gentleman who happens to like his girls (very) young. We get an early hint that he's not right when one of these girls overdoses at his party, and his reaction is irritation that one of his young studs acquired bad drugs. It's not until much later that we see what a horrible human being he really is.
  • Alliterative Name: Dirk Diggler, Reed Rothchild and Becky Barnett.
  • Alone in a Crowd: The movie opens with the porn film stars dancing and partying to a nightclub before zooming in to Eddie, the club's dishwasher, who isn't happy and is the only one who doesn't see the nightclub as a place of joy and entertainment.
  • Anatomically Impossible Sex: Not quite impossible, but from what we see of Dirk's diggler in the final shot, even a seasoned porn star like Amber Waves would have significantly more trouble accommodating him than we see. And that's to say nothing of Dirk's "civilian" girlfriend Sheryl Lynn.
  • Angrish:
    Little Bill: My fucking wife has an ass in her cock over in the driveway, all right?!
  • Armor-Piercing Question: During Amber's custody hearing, Amber tries to deny her own problems, but then admits she's been arrested when the judge straight up asks her. The judge then asks "When was the last time you were arrested and what was the charge?" We next see Amber outside a sobbing mess, having lost custody of her son.
  • Ate His Gun: Little Bill, after shooting his wife and her latest lover on the stroke of midnight on New Year's Eve, puts his gun in his mouth and blows his brains out all over the wall behind him.
  • Bad "Bad Acting": All the characters in their movie-within-a-movie porn performances, Amber Waves' affectless "This is a giant cock" being a good example. The cast and writers studied actual adult films from the 1970s to ensure the dialogue was appropriately cheesy and the acting suitably flat.
  • Badass Bystander: Subverted. When Buck was buying donuts, the store suddenly gets held up by an intoxicated man with a gun. A customer seated at that donut shop who had his own firearm fires at the robber, but he also ended up getting himself and the donut clerk killed, ending the situation in a far more tragic place than had he not intervened.
  • Bad Guys Do the Dirty Work: After Buck Swope is denied a very important loan from the only bank he can go to open up his electronics store because of his past connections to the porn industry, he resorts to taking cash from a donut store that he by a very lucky coincidence was at while it was being held up by a robber who forced the donut clerk at gunpoint to empty out his vault.
  • Berserk Button: Never insult Jack Horner's films, especially not after you've already disrespected Rollergirl.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Rollergirl, as her former high school classmate finds out to his cost when he sneers at the life she has made for herself since dropping out of school.
  • Bigger Is Better in Bed: Basically the only thing Dirk has going for him, despite his constant attempts to prove otherwise.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The porn industry has changed greatly, and not exactly for the better, but the characters are eventually reunited as a family. Dirk kicks the drugs, and Amber, Reed, and Rollergirl begin to spread their wings outside of being limited to working in the porn industry (Amber directs the commercial for Buck's hi-fi store, Reed launches a moderately successful magic act, and Rollergirl finally gets her GED).
  • Blatant Lies: During Amber's custody hearing, her ex-husband points out Amber's drug problem, which Amber completely denies.
  • Book Dumb: Being a high school dropout has left Dirk with a spotty knowledge base at best. In Amber's documentary about him, when brushing off negative criticism, Dirk chalks it up to jealousy and likens it to everyone trying to conquer Napoleon when he was king of the Roman Empire; Napoleon ruled the (First) French Empire (nearly a millennium and a half after the fall of the Roman Empire in the West) and was thus an emperor rather than a king, and he was the one doing the conquering.
  • Brainless Beauty: Dirk is noted for his sexual prowess and muscular body, but in the brains department he is a bit slow.
  • Caught Coming Home Late: Eddie's mother is waiting for him when he returns from a night out at Jack Horner's house. She makes a horrible scene which causes Eddie to leave home and move in with Jack.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Reed's skills as a magician come into play in his epilogue, where he is a professional illusionist.
  • Cluster F-Bomb:
    • Dirk goes into this mode during his meltdown that leads to Jack firing him.
    • Jack and Rollergirl both drop one while beating the tar out of the frat boy who insults them during the abortive "On the Lookout" experiment.
  • Coitus Uninterruptus: A Running Gag with Little Bill walking in on his wife having sex with another man several times during the first half of the film, and she simply carries on as though he isn't there. Until the last time, when Little Bill shoots her, her lover, and then himself.
  • The Con: Dirk and his friends attempt to scam Rahad Jackson with fake drugs. They might have gotten away with passing off baking soda as heroin if a coked-up Todd hadn't gotten more demanding, causing the whole scam to go horribly wrong.
  • Contrast Montage: More of a Parallel Montage. In the 80s, Jack's attempt to film a random person on the street having sex with Rollergirl in the back seat of a limo are intercut with Dirk being asked to masturbate for another man's entertainment in a pickup truck. It's revealed at the end of both scenes that they're in the same place, with the pickup trucks joining the same road that the limo is driving down. Neither Dirk nor Jack's party notice each other.
  • Coolest Club Ever: "Hot Traxx", the club from the opening scene.
  • Cultural Rebel: Buck Swope, Don Cheadle's character, is a fan of country/western music, to the point that he wears cowboy hats and shirts with fringes (the whole Roy Rogers getup). Remember, he's played by Don Cheadle.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Literally handed out to Rollergirl's insulting former classmate. Finished off with her kicking him with her roller skates while he was lying in his blood. Dirk suffers a similar fate as he is beaten up by a gang of homophobes.
  • Custody Battle: One subplot of the film is Amber attempting to get visitation rights over her son, who is in the custody of her ex-husband. However, her request is denied due her drug addiction and criminal history. She's shown sobbing after the hearing because the judge won't allow her to see her son.
  • A Deadly Affair: Bill does a murder-suicide when he catches his wife cheating on him too many times, shooting her and the man she's with and then turning on himself.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: This being the 1970s Los Angeles porn scene, attitudes towards sex and gender are in several ways quite different to the modern standard. On the other hand, the porn crew's lax attitude towards sexuality comes off as more relatable today than the more conservative standards of the time period.
  • Deus ex Machina: The donut shop robbery which lands Buck the money he needs to open his stereo emporium. The robbery goes bad when a customer produces a gun and shoots the perpetrator. As the perp falls, he shoots the customer, who reflexively pulls the trigger as he falls forward, killing the donut shop employee and leaving the bag of money sitting on the floor with Buck the only witness/survivor.
  • Dirty Old Man: Colonel James is seen with a series of extremely young, often underage, girls during the film. This point is driven home rather well when we see him in prison, and he implies that when the police raided his house after his latest underage girl died of a massive cocaine overdose, they found pictures of children. This, coupled by the fact that the Colonel would likely spend the rest of his life in prison and could no longer finance his films, cause Jack to abandon him in disgust.
  • Disaster Dominoes: Zig-zagged. Buck can't get a bank loan to start his hi-fi store because of his past as a porn star. He and his wife Jessie are expecting a baby and the future looks bleak, at best. But Jessie wants baked goods, so Buck goes to the donut store to get some. While he's in there, the donut store is held up at gunpoint. Buck freezes, and the look on his face is that of a man for whom things couldn't get any worse. The hold-up guy is on edge and Buck is sure that he's going to die. Then the only other customer in the place pulls out a gun. Buck implores him "Hey, no, don't do that, no no no!" but just as the hold-up guy takes the money, the customer shoots him. He falls back and his guns goes off, shooting the customer in the chest, and the customer flails backwards, reflexively pulling the trigger again and blowing the donut shop assistant's brains out. Buck is left all alone, alive... with a huge bag of money and no living witnesses.
  • Disposable Sex Worker: The film is centered around sex workers, and the story explores them as three-dimensional characters. However, while the story itself doesn't view sex workers as disposable, an in-universe example has some suggestions that the porn industry as a whole could (can?) display a tendency towards this mindset; a girl, heavily implied to be both underage and either a sex worker herself or one of the Colonel's regular girlfriends, suffers a bad reaction to some bad drugs she's given during the early party scene, and while the guy who gave her the drugs freaks out, everyone else seems to view the fact that she's on the floor bleeding copiously as a minor inconvenience at most. She's last seen being carried away from the party as if she were trash to be disposed of.
  • Do Not Call Me "Paul": After Eddie Adams takes the stage name of "Dirk Diggler" he insists that everyone call him that all the time.
  • Door-Closes Ending: The last shot is of Dirk exiting through the door of his changing room, ready to make another film.
  • Double Entendre: Buck's audio store commercial ends with him asking customers to "come inside us."
  • Drone of Dread: The held low note and the orchestral bell that dominate Dirk and Rollergirl's separate misadventures in the 80s.
  • Drugs Are Bad: Especially if you have to prostitute yourself and get beaten up in your attempts to feed your habit. Cocaine and crystal methamphetamine destroy Dirk's film career by causing him to become near-impotent, making him short-tempered enough to lash out at Jack and lose his job, and forcing him, Reed, and Todd Parker to resort to increasingly desperate and illegal measures to keep funding their collective habit.
  • Dumb Is Good: Almost all of Jack Horner's cast members exude sweetness and amiable natures, but none are the sharpest tools in the shed - especially not the bumbling, loveable oaf that is Reed Rothchild. In one of his Establishing Character Moments, Reed is introduced to Dirk at the pool party, with Dirk being described as "the new boy on the street"; Reed interprets this literally, assuming Dirk lives on the street (i.e., is homeless).
  • Dutch Angle: Used twice. First time when Eddie announces he will do porn, which underscores the turn his life will take. Second time when he is introduced to the new guy, Johnny Doe. His life again will turn again, for the worse this time.
  • End of an Age: How the changing porn industry is depicted. With the demise of film and the rise of videotape, Jack is forced to transition from attempts at plot and artistry with professional (if modestly talented) actors to assembly-line films with amateur actors and no plot.
  • Epic Tracking Shot: The first shot of the movie, as well as the next-to-last shot, forming Book Ends. The opening shot is one continuous 3-minute take in which the audience is introduced to something like 85% of the main characters in the film; the shot finally ends when the camera reaches Eddie and then cuts to Jack as they make eye contact. Other long takes in the movie include the pool party scene and the end-of-the-70s New Year's party.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Most of the major characters' personalities and roles in the story are pretty firmly established in the opening nightclub scene. To whit:
    • Jack is first introduced quietly swaggering into the club with Amber under his arm, and getting enthusiastically greeted like an A-List celebrity by Maurice (who instantly gets him a booth and a free plate of oysters), establishing his massive industry clout and general aura of cool.
    • Rollergirl is first introduced getting gently scolded by Amber for forgetting to call someone, and then awkwardly announcing that she needs to use the bathroom after Amber notices her clutching her crotch—immediately establishing her youthful naivete and her surrogate mother-daughter relationship with Amber.
    • Eddie/Dirk is first introduced as a lowly dishwasher keeping a low profile in the back. When Jack strikes up a conversation with him, he's initially quiet and shy, but instantly becomes confident and assertive when he pointedly offers to expose himself to Jack for money—establishing him as a naïve and unassuming kid with nothing to offer except his body.
    • Buck is first introduced proudly showing off his cowboy get-up to rather nonplussed Maurice, demonstrating his boyish enthusiasm and relative innocence.
    • Bill is first introduced pestering Jack about the logistics of shooting an upcoming movie, only to get casually blown off, showing his lack of charisma and respect.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": Rollergirl is only ever referred to as such except by her former high school classmate, who addresses her by her real name of Brandy. Similarly, we only rarely hear the real name of Amber Waves (Maggie).
  • Everyone Has Standards: While Jack Horner has little problem with the Colonel's obvious penchant for teenage girls who are clearly somewhere below the statutory age-of-consent limit (and was himself willing to recruit teenagers like Brandy/Rollergirl and Eddie/Dirk to the industry), he is utterly disgusted and breaks with him completely upon discovering that the Colonel's tastes extend to pre-pubescent children.
  • Fanservice: Since the movie centers around pornography, a lot of skin is bared.
  • Father's Quest: Gender-Inverted Example. One subplot involves Amber petitioning a California Family Court for visitation rights to her son. Clearly, Amber had been a wife and mother in her youth, but is now divorced, and her ex-husband has custody. Amber's cocaine addiction is the likely cause, as the judge asks Amber about her most recent arrest for cocaine possession. The scene then cuts to Amber standing outside the courthouse sobbing; her quest for access to her son went... badly.
  • Friends Are Chosen, Family Aren't: Dirk has this with regard to his own parents—his mother thinks he's a stupid, useless loser—and his symbolic "parents" Jack and Amber, who adore him, at least until he becomes insufferable. Even then, when he apologises, they welcome him back into the fold.
  • Gag Penis: Played for both drama and comedy. Eddie Adams' huge member gets him a job as porn star Dirk Diggler. Each time he pulls it out, people stare in awe. The final shot of the film concludes with Dirk pulling it out in front of the mirror. The actual penis was a prosthetic that Mark Wahlberg wore for the shot.
  • The Grovel: A heartwarming reconciliation scene towards the end when Dirk returns to Jack's home to apologize for him turning away from the "family".
  • Gut Punch: The movie is rather light-hearted and comedic for the first half, until the 1979-1980 New Year's Party scene where Amber introduces Dirk to cocaine, and Little Bill finally snaps and shoots his philandering wife, her lover and himself dead. From this point on, things get a lot darker.
  • Happy Ending Override: When the 1980s roll around, most if not all of the characters' lives are ruined. Dirk falls into cocaine addiction, Amber loses custody of her child, Buck struggles to open a stereo store and Jack has to shoot on videotape instead of film. Things get better, though.
  • Head-Tiltingly Kinky: Reed and Becky tilt their heads in astonishment behind the camera when Dirk presents his member to Amber during their first shoot.
  • Henpecked Husband:
    • Little Bill gets no love (physical or emotional) from his wife, who constantly humiliates him by not only sleeping with other men in public, but acting as if he's the one in the wrong when he protests. Things turn tragic when her actions lead him to murder her and then commit suicide, and in public no less.
    • Also Eddie/Dirk's father, a seemingly nice man who is implied to be powerless against his wife's brutal rage fits toward their son. During Dirk and his mom's argument, we see him sitting on his bed, quietly musing on what to do while tearing up.
  • Heroic BSoD / Villainous BSoD: Dirk suffers a 51-second long take one during the drug deal when he realizes it is not going to end well.
  • Hollywood Tone-Deaf: Dirk's ill-advised foray into music. Bear in mind that Mark Wahlberg was the front man of The Funky Bunch.
  • Hookers and Blow: It's a story set in the porn industry covering the years 1977 to 1984. What did you expect? Sunshine and lollipops?
  • Horrible Hollywood: Played with. In a larger context, the porn industry is clearly this, being corrupt, exploitative, and more than a bit shady (several of the producers are implied to have mob ties and definitely have rather unpleasant perversions). But when focusing on the main characters, while they are a bit dim, spoiled, and vaguely incestuous, they clearly love each other as something like a family.
  • Hypocrite: The frat boy from the "On The Lookout" experiment. His earlier mockery of Rollergirl's porn career helped drive her to drop out of school, and he refuses to give his name to Jack on camera, as though being associated with porn is beneath him... yet he's happy to try to have sex with Rollergirl all the same.
  • Iconic Item: Rollergirl's skates.
  • I Have Many Names:
    • Eddie Adams > Dirk Diggler > Brock Landers.
    • This backfires on Amber. After trying to convince her ex to let her talk to her son, when her son finally does call he's told there's no one there by that name.
  • I Know Fucking Karate: He's an actor in action-themed porn movies. Of course Dirk Diggler knows karate. His Bruce Lee posters tip off the viewer.
  • Incest Subtext: Very heavy between Amber and Dirk. Though they share numerous sex scenes on camera and a love that borders on romantic love at times, Amber becomes a mother figure to Dirk after he runs away from his own parents, and he becomes a replacement son to her as her own attempts to gain access to her biological son, Andy, are rebuffed by her ex-husband, Tom.
  • Incompatible Orientation: Scotty to Dirk. During the New Years Eve party, he tries to kiss Dirk, but when Dirk turns him away, he tries to play it off, only to breakdown in the car the moment Dirk leaves. The two still seem to remain friends however.
  • I Was Born Ready: Dirk says this multiple times.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: For all their jerkass tendencies, the characters all clearly love and care for each other as a family.
  • Karma Houdini:
    • The surfer punks who beat up Dirk manage to flee the scene and get away scot-free.
    • Rollergirl and Jack never receive any consequences for laying a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown to the former's old classmate.
    • Buck successfully steals the money from the donut shop after everyone inside has been shot dead and uses it to open up his stereo store. He never suffers any consequences for this.
  • Kick Them While They're Down: Rollergirl does this to her former high school classmate after Jack has already had his share of beating the latter senseless and is being restrained by the limo driver and cameraman.
  • Kitschy Local Commercial: The audio store commercial, over-the-top as hell and laden with extremely obvious Double Entendre.
    Buck: We're open. We're ready. All you need to do is walk over, get down, and come inside us.
  • Kubrick Stare: In the lead-up to the botched drug heist, Dirk has one of these.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Sleazy Colonel James is sent to prison for child pornography. The last time we see him he's being bullied by his cellmate and has been reduced to nothing but tears.
  • The Loins Sleep Tonight: Dirk starts having problems in this area as his cocaine addiction becomes more severe, which is a bit of a problem for an adult film actor.
  • Male Frontal Nudity: Features in the final scene in which Dirk rehearses for his newest film in front of a mirror, and then unzips his fly and takes out the reason for his stardom.
  • Making Love in All the Wrong Places: Bill's wife and her lover have sex in the driveway of her home where a crowd of people (and Bill) can see.
  • Meaningful Name: Of course they're meaningful. They're porn names.
  • Medley Exit: Set to "God Only Knows".
  • Mirror Monologue: Dirk Diggler's last scene where he preps himself in front of a mirror. This was based on John Holmes, who said he liked to rehearse in bathrooms because "It's usually the only room in the house that has a lock on the door."
  • Mood Dissonance: The Drug Heist scene is a masterclass in Mood Dissonance, managing to be unbearably tense/terrifying, surreal, and hilarious all at the same time.
  • Mood Whiplash: At first glance, the movie comes of as a fun, light-hearted portrayal of the golden age of porn. At least until the New Year's Eve party where Dirk is introduced to cocaine and Little Bill shoots his wife, her lover and himself. Needless to say, the film gets darker fast.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Amber introduces Dirk to cocaine. His addiction spirals out of control until it makes him unable to perform and ends his personal and professional relationship with Jack.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed:
    • Dirk Diggler is clearly based upon John Holmes, from his prodigious member to the botched drug heist that was an allusion to the Wonderland murders. Dirk even mentions Holmes (disdainfully) at one point.
    • Similarly, Amber Waves' custodial problems were inspired by those that Veronica Hart went through. Hart even has a Real-Person Cameo as the judge presiding over Amber's case.
    • Alfred Molina's character, Rahad Jackson, was based on that of Eddie Nash (b. Adel Nasrallah), the Palestinian-American club owner/drug dealer who was allegedly robbed by John Holmes and his junkie friends, then allegedly masterminded the Wonderland Murders in retaliation, where said friends were beaten to death.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: A more specific example during the donut store robbery. An armed bystander tries to be a hero and shoots the robber, but he himself is shot in the chest and killed, causing him to accidentally splatter the brains of the innocent employee all over Buck.
  • Oh, Crap!: Rollergirl gets this look twice.
    • First, after kneeling to give Eddie Adams a blow job, she unzips his fly and sees what she has to deal with.
    • Second, when the frat boy whom she and Jack have recruited for "On the Lookout" says, "You're Brandy, right?" - revealing himself as one of her former high school classmates whose mockery drove her to drop out of school.
  • Only Sane Man: Tom, Amber's estranged husband, tries to see himself as such for their son, Andy. And while he has a very small role in the film, he's arguably one of the more sensible characters not involved in the adult film industry.
    • Reed can also qualify, despite his drug problem at the time, as he sticks by Dirk even through the bad times and is the first to sense that robbing Rahad Jackson is NOT a good idea.
  • Out Sick: Eddie as Dirk gets so coked-up that he can't get an erection. He masturbates in the bathroom for a long time and is finally ready but the director, Jack Horner, has become disgusted with Eddie's mercurial temperament, so he's scheduled a new actor to replace him.
  • Parental Incest: Implied. Eddie's mom seems a little too jealous of his relationship with Sheryl Lynn.
  • Personal Arcade: Dirk Digger has a Hot Line pinball game at his house.
  • Porn Names:
    • Dirk's original name was Eddie Adams. There's also Amber Waves (her real name is Maggie; when her son Andy calls Jack's house and asks for her by that name, Maurice tells him he has the wrong number).
    • Inverted when Buck opens his stereo store called "Buck's Super Cool Stereo Store" and Maurice opens the "Rodriques Brothers Night Club". Both have very unclever names.
  • Porn with Plot: Jack's dream is to make a movie so compelling that his audience won't leave when they're "finished".
  • Remake Cameo: Michael Stein, who appears as the stereo store customer, played Dirk Diggler in The Dirk Diggler Story, P.T. Anderson's 1988 short film that was expanded into this movie (also, Robert Ridgely played Jack Horner in the short).
  • The Reveal: Literally! After all the talk about how big Dirk's donger is, the audience finally gets to see it in the final shot.
  • Round Table Shot: The scene where Dirk, Reed, and Todd plot their visit to Rahad Jackson's house.
  • Running Gag Penis: Dirk's. Every single time he whips it out, people stare at it in awe. We finally get to see it for ourselves in the movie's last shot.
  • Shaped Like Itself: "See this system here? This is Hi-Fi... high fidelity. What that means is that it's the highest quality fidelity."note 
  • Shout-Out:
    • The TK-421 Hi-Fi installation Buck Swope tries to sell is named after the Stormtrooper guarding the Millenium Falcon in A New Hope, which is later discussed by Eddie and Reed.
    • The party scene where the camera wanders through Jack's home and dives into the pool is a homage to a similar sequence in I Am Cuba.
    • The final shot of this movie is basically the same as the final shot of Raging Bull, just in color, with Mark Wahlberg instead of De Niro, and featuring a Gag Penis.
    • At one point of the movie, Dirk joins a group disco dance lifted straight from Saturday Night Fever.
    • Several elements of the film (including settings) were from a documentary called "Exhausted": the John Holmes story. Here is Anderson commentating over that film.
  • Show Within a Show: Several of Dirk's starring vehicles; also, The Dirk Diggler Story.
  • Sleeps with Everyone but You: A Running Gag has Little Bill catch his wife having sex with strangers while supposedly he doesn't get any action from her.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: A few scenes use this trope to great effect.
    • Dirk and Rollergirl's impromptu first time having sex is scored by Rollergirl's choice of song: Melanie's "Brand New Key".
    • The tense Drug Heist scene is scored by Night Ranger's "Sister Christian", Rick Springfield's "Jessie's Girl", and Nena's "99 Luftballons". This isn't helped by the young Chinese boy in the room, who is lighting and throwing firecrackers around.
  • Stab the Picture: When Eddie Adams comes home late from work, his mother demands to know where he's been, then accuses him of sleeping around with some floozy. She chases Eddie into his bedroom, where in a fit of bitchy pique, she tears his Farrah Fawcett poster off the wall. Eddie flees his home to escape this haywire harpy, and takes up residence with adult film producer Jack Horner. This leads to Eddie becoming the new sex film star Dirk Diggler.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Scotty J towards Dirk. Unlike most examples of this trope, however, he doesn't turn psychotic when Dirk turns him down, just self-pitying.
  • Straw Hypocrite: The homophobe who picks Dirk up and beats him up along with his friends for supposedly being a "fag" and disagreeing with what he was doing. Never mind that he seemed to get pretty into it when he was watching him masturbating, telling him to go faster and harder.
  • Stylistic Suck:
    • The clips from the porn movies being filmed are absolutely dripping with this trope, which is to be expected when you consider that they're making porn here.
    • Amber's documentary about Dirk also qualifies.
  • Survival Mantra: "I'm a star. I'm a star. I'm a big, bright, shining star."
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Johnny Doe as Rock Harders when Dirk quits Jack's studio in an ill-advised fit of pique.
  • Team Mom: Amber takes many of the younger stars in Jack's employ under her wing and mothers them, in what is all but outright stated to be a substitute for her own custodial battles over and Missing Mom nature towards her own son. Takes on a slightly weird edge when it comes to Dirk, in that she appears to view herself as a mother-figure to him while simultaneously kind of falling in love with him at the same time. Lampshaded in the case of Rollergirl, in the course of a coke-fuelled heart-to-heart with Amber:
    Rollergirl: I love you, mom. I want you to be my mom, Amber. You're my mom? I'll just I'll ask you, if you're my mom, okay? And you say yes, okay? Are you my mom?
    Amber: [tearful] Yes, honey.
    [They embrace, weeping.]
  • Technology Marches On: Played for drama in-universe. Jack Horner refuses to convert from shooting his movies on film to shooting on VHS as he believes video limits the quality of the image and cheapens the whole pornographic industry because any amateur could stick a cassette in a camera. Unfortunately, the industry as well as its customers don't agree with him.
  • Title Card: "80s" and "Long Way Down (One Last Thing)" are the two title cards, which appear roughly 1.5 and 2 hours into the film, respectively.
  • Titled After the Song: The film was named after the 1977 Heatwave song, though it's not on the soundtrack.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Todd tries to rob Rahad Jackson further. It doesn't go too well.
  • True Companions: In the "replacement family" sense - albeit quite an incestuous one. Amber and Jack act as Team Mom and Dad, Reed and Dirk are the brothers who start out wary of each other but end up working together, and Rollergirl is the daughter that never cleans her room. Kurt's the Honorary Uncle. All work out their respective issues with their birth families through this shared bond. These deeply felt relationships are especially clear at the end of the movie after they've settled their differences and reunited. Due to all the prejudice they face, most porn stars only have friends in the business, and many of them can't even talk to their families anymore. Note that this is still true as of right now.
  • Useless Bystander Parent: Eddie/Dirk's stepfather. His wife is an alcoholic and emotional abuser towards his step-son, while he does nothing to help him.
  • Visual Title Drop: The movie opens with a shot of a theater marquee advertising a film called "Boogie Nights".
  • Watch the Paint Job: Downplayed. If you watch closely you can see Dirk Diggler's treasured Corvette showing up near the end of the movie with unexplained collision damage to its front end. This is explained in a deleted scene, where he smashes it into a telephone pole while racing to save Becky Barnett from being beaten by her husband.


The Touch

Dirk Diggler may need to stick to porn.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (2 votes)

Example of:

Main / HollywoodToneDeaf

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