Star Rating: 5 out of 5
In 1976 a show was broadcast on NBC called The Gong Show, hosted by Chuck Barris. Chuck Barris has a long history of involvement with game shows. In 1965 Barris created the immensely popular The Dating Game in which contestants would ask a series of questions to three hidden bachelors or bachelorettes in order to determine based on the responses to those questions which of the three hidden contestants he or she would go on a date with. In 1966 Barris created The Newlywed Game where individuals are asked questions to gauge how well they know their spouse. All of this, Barris was able to achieve, while secretly working for the CIA. At least, thats what he claims.
Confessions of a Dangerous Mind is based off of the Chuck Barris autobiography of the same name. It was directed by George Clooney, written by Charlie Kaufman, and stars Sam Rockwell as Chuck Barris. The movie tells the story of how Chuck Barris got into television and where he came up with the ideas for all of his game shows. It examines small pieces of his early life as well as his personal relationships with those around him, or lack thereof. The film also embraces Barris’ claim of being a CIA assassin as truth, although probably because it makes for a more entertaining movie.
If someone asked me who the top five screenwriters were in hollywood, Charlie Kaufman would be on that list. All of his stories carry a surreal element to them, while also being relatable and emotional. Compared to Kaufman’s other work, I would say Confessions of a Dangerous Mind is his most understandable. There are some strange moments, but compared to Being John Malkovich or Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind it maintains an easy to follow linear structure. Using Barris’ book as its foundation, Kaufman weaves a tail that falls into several genres. It could be a romantic comedy, it could be a spy thriller, a mystery, a noir, a biopic, or a comedy. It all depends on what aspect of the movie you choose to focus on.
Chuck Barris was a role that Sam Rockwell was born to play. [epq-quote align=”align-left”]It could be a romantic comedy, it could be a spy thriller, a mystery, a noir, a biopic, or a comedy. It all depends on what aspect of the movie you choose to focus on.[/epq-quote]After the movie was over I immediately looked up old clips from the Gong Show just to see how close Rockwell’s portrayal was. Spoiler alert: It was spot on. At one point my wife looked at me and asked if I was rewatching clips from the movie because of how similar Rockwell’s portrayal was. There were no weak roles in the movie. Drew Barrymore, once again, plays a very likable and relatable character that does an excellent job of playing a foil for Barris’ humanity. For George Clooney’s directorial debut, he did an excellent job of being able to use the full range of his actors abilities. Oh, and theres a surprising cameo during one of the scenes from The Dating Game. Trust me, you won’t want to miss it.
If you find yourself on the couch one night, endlessly scrolling through Netflix, I highly recommend Confessions of a Dangerous Mind. Everything about it was surprising in a way that one would not expect for some unknown movie. There is literally something for everyone in this movie. Do yourself a favor, and enjoy this hidden gem.
This post was originally written for theopine.net.