Genre: Drama | Age: 15-17


Ages 4 & Under -- No
Ages 5 to 7 -- No
Ages 8 to 9 -- No
Ages 10 to 12 -- No
Ages 13 to 15 -- Probably Not
Ages 15 to 17 -- With Guidance

DRAMA: 1997, R. Eddie Adams works as a busboy in a disco in 1970s LA. He is spotted and recruited by an adult filmmaker, Jack Horner. Changing his name to Dirk Diggler, he quickly becomes a star and makes friends in the porn community. He begins using cocaine recreationally, but quickly becomes hooked. As the more conservative 1980s begin, Dirk and his group find their world changing and their old lifestyle dysfunctional. Trying to change their lives, some of Dirk’s friends are successful – Rollergirl gets straight and goes back to school – but most are not: one is killed during a botched armed robbery attempt, another is refused bank loans to open a straight business, another’s child removed by court order. All are desperately searching for a meaningful emotional attachment, but find it elusive. By the end of the film, Dirk has kicked cocaine (only because it interferes with his “performance” as a porn star) and is back in business again, apparently having learned nothing from his experiences.

VIOLENCE/SCARINESS: One man goes to prison for pedophilia where the convicts beat him. A woman has a severe nosebleed after using cocaine. A man shoots his philandering wife and then commits suicide on screen. Jack and Rollergirl beat a man bloody. An aborted hold up leaves an innocent bystander spattered with blood and brains – and three others dead. Several of Dirk’s friends are killed in an attempted drug rip-off and a man with a shotgun chases him. Dirk is beaten by homophobes after turning gay tricks. One man, high on drugs, plays Russian roulette.

CRIMES: Pornography (U), Attempted Robbery (U), Drug Use (U), Prostitution (U), Pedophilia (P).

MORALS, ISSUES & VALUES: The film centers on the pornography industry of the late 1970s and early 1980’s, however, nothing is seen. Dirk’s mother is convinced he will amount to nothing and throws him out of her house. Rollergirl quits school to become a movie star but winds up in the porn business. This film is full of casual sex, drug use, violence, and profanity – in fact, the most positive male character is Jack Horner, a pornographer. The “hero” learns nothing of his experiences. Overall, however, the film is a strong condemnation of this life-style: these people do not find fulfillment or happiness. One man takes the money after a hold-up man is killed. One woman loses custody of her son because of her participation in porn and use of drugs.

SEXUALITY & GENDER ISSUES: Bits of masturbation, homosexual contact, lesbian contact and various kinds of sexual acts are implied but practically nothing is seen. However, in the final scene, Dirk reveals to the audience his large (prosthetic) genitals.

SUBSTANCES: The characters drink and smoke constantly. Some marijuana use. There is heavy cocaine use, and two instances of near-lethal overdoses. It is also implied that cocaine interferes with sexual function.

COMMENTS: This film is a very strong cautionary tale against drugs, promiscuity and taking action without considering the consequences. Some older teens may be drawn to it because of the promise of the subject matter (nothing is seen – just a lot of talk), but many will also want to see star Mark Wahlberg because of his fame as white rapper Marky Mark and his prominence as a Calvin Klein underwear model. While this film has artistic values (often imitating films like GoodFellas), few teens should be allow to see it without considerable guidance to clearly point out the consequences of these lifestyles.

STARRING: Mark Wahlberg, William H. Macy, Burt Reynolds, Heather Graham, Julianne Moore.

ALTERNATES: Other films dealing with drugs that don’t let the user get off so easy are “Panic in Needle Park,” “Return to Paradise,” and “Trainspotting.”


Nudity -- 4
Sexuality -- 5+
Physical Violence -- 4
Emotional Stress -- 4
Blood or Gore -- 5
Language/Profanity -- 5
Immorality -- 5
Parental Guidance -- 5
Watchability for Adults -- 5
Overall (For Kids of the Appropriate Age) -- 4
New Search
Copyright Arthur Taussig 2022