''Boogie Nights'' on laserdisc -- The cast lets loose on the commentary track

Till now, home-video enthusiasts could usually count on deluxe laserdiscs and DVD special editions sharing the same bonuses. But if you want the complete Boogie Nights — the digital full monty, if you will — you’ll have to pony up for both formats, because the New Line DVD and Criterion laserdisc offer almost completely different commentary tracks. The DVD has writer-director Paul Thomas Anderson going it sober and solo (except for a few remarks from gal pal Fiona Apple), but the limited-edition Criterion disc includes a hilariously revealing commentary track in which the 27-year-old Anderson plies cast members with alcohol in the interest of camaraderie and candor. Thrill as they reveal Burt Reynolds’ attempt to endow his porn-director character with an Irish accent! Chill as Mark Wahlberg divulges clinical details of his losing bout with rough sex! Will yourself not to eavesdrop on the gossip at this veritable postproduction kegger!

The distinct commentaries arose ”through negotiations between Criterion and New Line,” says the director. ”But it wasn’t like I didn’t have the notion of doing two tracks — one where I could be an egomaniac hog, another where I could include the actors,” Heather Graham, William H. Macy, and Julianne Moore among them. ”I knew that this would be a chance for us to air a lot of laundry one last time.”

And how. Reynolds, who didn’t participate, is the subject of an unresolved debate over whether he ever ”smacked” the director. (”I said to the editor of the Criterion track, ‘Be sure we’re a little nice to Burt,”’ says Anderson. Reynolds’ spokesperson says the actor ”loved” the laser.) Julianne Moore plays it demure, but Anderson happily goads Wahlberg about whether it was ”nice to have Heather naked on top of you.” You won’t get that on the DVD, which shipped 50,000 units (or on the no-frills, New Line laser); Criterion’s laser shipped about 2,000 — ensuring that the party stays quasi-private, and that thrill-seeking collectors will think twice before abandoning the DVD-besieged format.

Boogie Nights
  • Movie
  • 155 minutes