Television made him famous, but his biggest hits happened off screen. "Confessions of a Dangerous Mind" is the story of a legendary showman's double life - television producer by day, CIA assassin by night. At the height of his TV career, Chuck Barris was recruited by the CIA and trained to become a covert operative. Or so Barris said. Written by
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George Clooney's directorial debut is a compelling dramatic biopic about `Gong Show' host Chuck Barris, who claims to be a hit man for the CIA. Barris started out small, but decided to go for the big time and move to New York, where he got a job at NBC. Soon he becomes a manager type person, and creates an idea for a game show called `The Dating Game'. It becomes a hit, but he feels unfulfilled, even though he has Penny (Drew Barrymore). Also, Jim Byrd (Clooney) from the CIA recruits Barris to kill for the CIA. As we watch the movie, we don't know which is true and which is a figment of his imagination. Think of it as an R-rated Beautiful Mind.
Barris is played with great intensity by Sam Rockwell. Clooney took a risk of planting a not-well-known name as the lead. With such star power behind him like Clooney, Barrymore, and Julia Roberts, he stands out. Rockwell has starred in such movies before like Heist and The Green Mile, all three times with great acting. He brings out the inner demons of Barris. Rockwell was exceptional, and exceptionally believable. Even though he was billed fourth, he has his name out now and we can expect him in larger things.
Many scenes were standout, with their camera angles and unique way of playing it. At times it seemed like a play, with a wall disappearing, for instance. However, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind wasn't as funny as I was hoping. Sure, some scenes were quite funny (like the scenes in the beginning where it was a montage of the f-word). It had an authentic feel to the 60's (including the soundtrack), like Catch Me If You Can did. At times, it had a documentary style to it, which would have been more effective if they had more substance behind it, such as more of the interviews or none at all. Many of the camera shots were close-ups, which looked quite cool. I am a game show aficionado, so I thought that most of the time would be spent on Barris going onto the CIA, but it was evenly divided between the two, so I was happy.
At times, the mood was light-hearted, almost satirical, but at other points it was serious drama that poked at your emotions. As I said before, Rockwell is definitely lead material. Clooney did a good job portraying the CIA recruiter, and Barrymore is the other standout as Barris' girlfriend. She and Rockwell, besides good chemistry, both displayed true emotions. Roberts, as another CIA agent, put in her usual mediocre performance, though she was better than normal. However, many characters have no substance behind them, namely Roberts, who was billed third and had about three scenes (which, I guess, is better than Jennifer Aniston in Office Space).
Possible the only downpoint of the movie was that at times, it got too trippy for its own good. Even Barris didn't know what was real and what wasn't. It got a little too muddled in plot, such as who is who, at times. When Barris sees everyone who he killed, that was just weird. Anyway, I would highly recommend Confessions of a Dangerous Mind to about anyone.
My rating: 8/10
Rated R for language, sexual content and violence.
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