The Boost

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The Boost
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Harold Becker
Produced by Daniel H. Blatt
Written by Ben Stein
Darryl Ponicsan
Starring James Woods
Sean Young
John Kapelos
Steven Hill
Kelle Kerr
Music by Stanley Myers
Cinematography Howard Atherton
Edited by Maury Winetrobe
Distributed by Hemdale Film Corporation
Release dates
  • December 28, 1988 (1988-12-28)
Running time
95 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $8 million
Box office $784,990

The Boost is a 1988 drama film directed by Harold Becker.[1] It stars James Woods, Sean Young, John Kapelos, Steven Hill, June Chandler and Amanda Blake.[2]


Lenny Brown is a real-estate hustler looking to strike it rich. He is married to Linda, a paralegal and amateur dancer. The two are poor in money but rich in love. Linda vows to stick with her husband until she "falls off the earth." He moves to California and goes to work for a prosperous businessman, Max Sherman, selling lucrative investments in tax shelters.

Everything is suddenly first-class for Lenny and his wife. But when the tax laws abruptly change, they find themselves $700,000 in debt.

They become increasingly desperate, made worse by the fact that a friend, Joel Miller, turns them on to cocaine for "a boost." Lenny and Linda both become addicted. They lose their home, car and jobs. Linda becomes pregnant, but falls and suffers a miscarriage after using cocaine.

Lenny's life unravels little by little as the drug habit gets the better of him. He gets straight temporarily for one last great business opportunity, but he can't pull it off. This culminates in Lenny severely beating Linda and putting her in the hospital. At this point, Linda decides enough is enough and seeks help. She later falls for the doctor who is treating her.

As the end credits roll, we see Lenny still using cocaine in his filthy apartment, reduced to a babbling shell of himself.



The Boost earned mixed reviews from critics. Roger Ebert gave the film three-and-a-half of a possible four stars in a Dec. 28, 1988 Chicago Sun-Times review, calling the film "one of the most convincing and horrifying portraits of drug addiction I've ever seen."[1] Leonard Maltin was not so kind, however, giving the movie only one-and-a-half of a possible four stars: "A misfire that's on the screen for 30 minutes before you even realize that it *is* anti-drug...As with Jack Nicholson in The Shining, it's hard to distinguish the 'before' Lenny from the 'after'."[3]


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