There is a certain sense of déjà vu attached to New Line’s extravagant two-disc edition of Boogie Nights ; it is New Line’s second go-round at a Platinum Series DVD for the film, and the main box art and another special feature derive from the pricey Criterion Collection laserdisc released a couple of years ago. But by taking the best of the old and sprucing it with a dash of the new, disc producer Mark Rance has assembled the definitive digital version of Paul Thomas Anderson’s 1997 porn world drama.
Anderson’s solo commentary, taken from the original single-disc Platinum Series edition, is the first of two that accompany the gorgeous new widescreen master of the film supervised by Lou Levinson and Anderson on disc one. Cinephiles will find much to savor on that informative track, but those just looking to be entertained will discover the real party’s on the second commentary, taken from the Criterion laserdisc. I usually don’t like commentaries cobbled together from separate recording sessions with a variety of principal players, but this track–featuring Anderson and stars Mark Wahlberg, Julianne Moore, Don Cheadle, John C. Reilly, Heather Graham, William H. Macy, Melora Walters, and Luis Guzman–is different because of its unconventional approach: the audio program was assembled from a number of individual and tandem “interviews” with the actors conducted by Anderson, and anyone who’s seen interviews with the writer-director know what a live wire (to put it lightly) he is.
The first disc also includes the usual chapter menus, but given the period song-heavy soundtrack, the menu that takes one directly to certain scenes by their respective music cues is an especially welcome feature. The “setup” screen and the color bars are likely to be overlooked, but fans will be pleased to see the big surprise that awaits them should they explore this oft-neglected corner of the disc.
Disc one’s splashy animated menus that riff on the ’70s-inspired box art are duplicated–albeit in a different color scheme–on disc two, which features a lot of interesting, recycled supplemental material. The theatrical trailer, the cast and crew filmographies, the cheeky biographies on the film’s characters, Michael Penn’s “Try” music video, and the deleted scenes (the latter two including an audio commentary option) are also holdovers from the original DVD, but some of these features have been altered. The cast and crew information no longer include brief biographies, but the filmographies are all brought up to Y2K speed (except, curiously, Walters’); and included in the deleted scenes section was a previously unseen (and rather long) sequence that originally came late in the film. The only entirely new feature on disc two is an amusing one: “The John C. Reilly Files,” a compilation of wacky outtakes centering around the actor. Originally planned for inclusion was an edited version of Exhausted, a documentary on adult film legend John Holmes (who was the vague basis of “Boogie’s” Dirk Diggler character), but rights issues led to an 11th-hour pull of the feature (a holdover from the Criterion laser). Its absence is not terribly felt, for the extras that are included on both discs give more than ample insight into the making of this terrific film.
Specifications: 2.40:1 anamorphic widescreen; English and French 5.1 Surround; English Dolby Surround; English, French, and Spanish subtitles.