Time for another edition of Movie vs. Script! Paul Thomas Anderson arrived to pop culture with Boogie Nights, his dramedy about the 70s porn industry, seen through the eyes of a young wunderkind with a very, very special gift: Eddie Adams from Torrance, also known as Dirk Diggler, one of Mark Wahlberg’s best roles, if not his best. If you haven’t watched Boogie Nights, you may not want to check out the following piece as it has spoilers. And even if you don’t mind, you really should be watching it right now.
Given that Anderson directed his own script, it’s no surprise that the final film is very faithful to his own writing. But quite a few differences stand out from the page to the screen. A lot of these are very small, brief moments with the characters between scenes that explore certain subplots in more detail. For example, in the very beginning, Maurice (Luis Guzman) implores Jack Horner (Burt Reynolds) to cast him in one of his pornos. Later in the movie, it seems like he has gotten a very small role as a bartender in Angels Live In My Town, featuring Diggler’s creation: Brock Landers. Nothing more is made out of this subplot in the movie, but in the script, there’s a deleted scene that takes place before the big fight between Dirk and Jack: Maurice tells Rollergirl (Heather Graham) he’s nervous about appearing in the scene because he’s very self-conscious about the size of his penis.
A big sequence that was excised from the film has Dirk coming to the rescue of Becky (Nicole Ari Parker) after getting a call from her saying that her husband is threatening to kill her. A coked-out Dirk rushes to her rescue on his Corvette, only to brutally crash while she escapes on her own account. In the final movie, none of this happens and instead, it’s implied that Becky’s marriage had a happy ending. These and other deleted scenes can be found on the deleted scenes included in the Boogie Nights DVD and Blu-Ray.
However, there are a few scenes that were not included in any home video release involving Dirk reuniting with Sheryl, his High School sweetheart, after escaping the shootout in Rahad Jackson’s mansion. He finds out not only that she’s married with children, but that her husband and her collect Dirk’s pornos. Finally, she tells him that his parents died in a car crashed caused by Johnny Doe, Dirk’s replacement in Jack’s films.
Overall, the screenplay is a very entertaining read, just like the movie. Anderson writes unusually, although he follows the traditional screenwriting format, he adds in a lot of camera and editorial directions in his descriptions, which will probably irk a lot of screenwriting gurus who see this as a big no-no. Comparing film and script, though, one can say that Anderson made all the right choices with his final cut of the movie. The movie is already two and a half hours long, and although it doesn’t feel overlong, extra scenes and moments like the ones in the movie are not missed. It’s a great script, but an even greater film.