Saturday, November 14, 2009

"Boogie Nights" and "Pirate Radio"

I said I could review Pirate Radio in 140 characters or less and I can: "It Was Long." The movie, that is.

And that got me thinking of another Philip Seymour Hoffman period piece: Boogie Nights. It was also long...both the Movie, and Marky Mark's one Special (prosthetic) thing.

So, both movies are very long; they both involve terrible 60s/70s clothes and haircuts; they both portray an industry under siege from outside forces, including the government; and sex, drugs, rock 'n roll are palpable characters. Both had music supervisors who were able to bring in absolutely unthinkable "gets" from the Rolling Stones on down.

In each movie, Philip Seymour Hoffman plays a kind of anchoring role in these two disparate, cobbled-together "families" that these misfits have created for themselves.

In the absence of real hands-on parents, various characters take on those surrogacies. In Boogie Nights it's Julianne Moore and Burt Reynolds. In Pirate Radio, it's Bill Nighy.

So why does Boogie Nights succeed where Pirate Radio fails?

Both are ensembles, but there's no doubt that Mark Wahlberg is driving the Boogie Nights bus. Hoffman is not as strongly crafted a lead in Pirate Radio. The young man who comes aboard the boat is just too slight (and unknown) to be a protagonist.

Boogie Nights makes you care about the peripheral characters beyond just whether or not (or in spite of) them getting laid. Remember Don Cheadle?

Pirate Radio is more like a long episode of say, WKRP in Cincinnati. (Excellent show in its heyday, by the way). Without a wildly successful human drama to hang our hats on, we're just left with the boats. And Rock n Roll. And a little twist of Titanic.

In the end, my review for Pirate Radio is the same as my review for Boogie Nights.

It. Was. Long.

Albeit for different reasons.

No comments:

Post a Comment