BY EMILY GAGNE
“That was 13 inches of awesome!”
I’m stealing this line from Jason Reitman’s TwItter feed because it summarizes my feelings for this year’s live reading of Boogie Nights. Plus, who doesn’t love a good huge dick joke? I know Reitman does, considering that one of the highlights of the night — which saw Reitman directing the likes of Olivia Wilde, Jason Sudeikis, Josh Brolin and Jesse Eisenberg through P.T. Anderson’s 1997 porn opus — was when he said “Dick” instead of “Dirk” while reading some directions during the first real sex scene. (P.S. – If you were there and heard a girl guffaw audibly after Reitman said “Thank you for coming!”, you heard me.)
I don’t think the casting was fully spot-on for this read, as it seemed to be for last year’s so-beautiful-it-hurts American Beauty tribute (Bryan Cranston is Lester Burnham to me now, as is Adam Driver Ricky Fitts). But there certainly were some big, bright, shining stars among the cast, most notably Brolin as a pitch-perfect Jack Horner (part originated by Burt Reynolds) and Sudeikis in multiple roles, including Don Cheadle’s Bucky Swope and a flamboyant, “Sister Christian”-obsessed drug lord Rahad Jackson (Alfred Molina).
I was impressed by the authenticity off Wilde’s take on fading porn star and struggling mother Amber Waves, particularly when she was tasked with reading those struggling phone calls about her son and any time she had to be coked out (her nostrils got a real work out). Another sweet surprise was Canada’s own Marc-André Grondin (Xavier LaFlamme, baby!) as Philip Seymour Hoffman’s sweet, misunderstood Scotty J. My heart completely dropped when he softly uttered, “I love you, Dirk” under his breath.
Sadly, I can’t say that I loved Reitman’s Dirk as much as Scotty J. While Jesse Eisenberg certainly played Dirk’s anxious moments right, including that infamous coked out murder sequence, he failed to capture Dirk’s karate-kicking bravado during the first act climax. You could see the embarrassment on his cheeks while singing “You’ve Got the Touch” with Dane Cook’s Reed Rothchild, which was not true to how you know Dirk felt on film. (Side note: I’m not a Cook fan, but man, he does a mean Luiz Guzmán.)
Sadly, I didn’t (feel, feel, feel) feel the heat from Dakota Fanning (our Rollergirl) either. Looking back on the script though, Rollergirl’s part was actually smaller and less important than I remembered. Dirk’s, on the other hand, has always been huge (in EVERY sense), and should have been handled as such. I guess it’s harder than I thought to play a Transformers theme-singing, karate expert of a porn star and we should give Mark Wahlberg more credit?
He he. Harder than I thought.