Confessions of a Dangerous Mind

Confessions of a Dangerous Mind

George Clooney
 Cast: George Clooney
George Clooney
, Sam Rockwell
Sam Rockwell
, Drew Barrymore
Drew Barrymore
, Julia Roberts
Julia Roberts


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Chuck Barris is best known to most Americans as the guy who used to host The Gong Show. He was also the creator and producer of The Dating Game, The Newlywed Game, and a handful of other successful game shows in the 1960s and 1970s. But was he also a hired killer working with the CIA? That's the take-it-or-leave-it premise of Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, based on the memoir of the same name by Chuck Barris. Barris (Sam Rockwell) grows up dreaming of success in show biz and winning the hearts of beautiful women, but early on, he meets with plenty of resistance from both women and the television industry, despite writing the hit tune "Palisades Park" and scoring a job with Dick Clark on American Bandstand. The 1960s proves more fortunate for Barris; he meets the love of his life, Penny (Drew Barrymore), and sells ABC on the idea of The Dating Game. However, after the show has made him wealthy and successful, Barris is approached by the mysterious Jim Byrd (George Clooney), a CIA agent who wants to recruit Barris as a covert operative. Barris finds the notion of playing spy games intriguing and agrees, but soon discovers what Byrd and his partners really want is for Barris to assassinate uncooperative figures around the world. Soon, Barris finds that his life has been all but taken over by Byrd and another CIA agent, the mysterious and sexy Patricia (Julia Roberts). As he hops the globe, killing people in the name of American security (using his status as a Dating Game chaperone as a cover), Barris learns that the KGB has discovered his not-so-little secret and that his own life is in great danger. Confessions of a Dangerous Mind marked the directorial debut of actor George Clooney, working from a screenplay adapted by Charlie Kaufman from Barris' book. Dick Clark, Dating Game host Jim Lange, frequent Gong Show panelist Jaye P. Morgan, and Gene Gene Patton appear as themselves.

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Gregory Baird

He had the perfect cover: TV producer by day, CIA operative by night. Stranger than fiction, or just plain fiction? It's anybody's guess in Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, a sharp adaptation of the unusual memoir of Chuck Barris, creator of The Newlywed Game, The Dating Game, and The Gong Show (which he also hosted). The story covers the life of the TV iconoclast in his own words, from his 1940s childhood through his Hollywood success and subsequent downfall. The kicker here is Barris's claim that throughout his entire career he moonlighted as a CIA assassin. As a result, Confessions plays out as half biographical drama and half spy thriller, also tracking the purported killer from initial recruitment to lethal climax. Sam Rockwell stars as Barris and has the man down to a tee, from physical appearance to goofy persona. In his directing debut, George Clooney offers a stylized yet light touch, keeping the showy theatrics to a minimum and relying more on the natural quirkiness of the narrative, which is scripted with eccentric glee by Charlie Kaufman. In fact, the conceit of the film is so brilliant that it's easy to lose sight of what a deft adaptation Clooney and Kaufman have wrought, with sharp dialogue, inventive staging, and a charming cast that includes Julia Roberts, Drew Barrymore, and Clooney himself in a mesmerizing turn as Barris's mysterious, mustachioed CIA contact. Those with fond memories of Barris's TV shows will also find this trip down memory lane a delight -- right down to the interview clips with the likes of Gong Show regular Jaye P. Morgan and Dating Game host Jim Lange. But the question remains: Is this a true-life story or a tongue-in-cheek metaphor for the caprices of the human psyche? Actually, it's hard to say which is the more intriguing possibility. Either way, the result is an off-kilter comedy-drama that is by turns amusing and head spinning, a perfect tribute to of one of television's dark geniuses.

All Movie Guide - Perry Seibert

George Clooney shows the necessary skills to maintain a career as a director with Confessions of a Dangerous Mind. He has a quirky, unconventional eye that certainly suits the material and manages to be confident without being too showy -- he never loses sight of why he is going to the occasional visual extreme. Less surprisingly, Clooney has a sure hand with his actors. Sam Rockwell is outstanding as Barris, managing to make the audience relate to him both through his excellent evocation of the real man and through a natural charm that feels like a combination of character and actor. This is the kind of performance that gets an actor years of steady work. Drew Barrymore is her usual winning self as the long-suffering girlfriend of the main character, Clooney himself does subtle acting work, and Julia Roberts is genuinely interesting as the femme fatale. The only major fault lies in the story itself. While it is fun to guess if Barris' claim that he was a CIA agent is genuine, the film takes at face value that it did happen. That leads to a dramatically slow second half where the novelty has worn off and the story grows repetitive with Barris' cycle of assassination, game show work, relationship troubles, self-doubt, assassination (etc., etc., etc.), becoming a letdown after the hilarious rush of the film's first hour. That said, the film is never less than watchable, and any film that contains a womanizing main character being confronted about his existential doubt by a nude woman in a pool at the Playboy mansion grotto has its heart and sense of humor in the right place.

Entertainment Weekly - Owen Gleiberman

The fascination of Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, the sharp, funny, unreasonably compelling adaptation of Barris' autobiography, is the way it soft-shoes past our skepticism.

Washington Post

A darkly enjoyable roller-coaster ride -- Clooney and Kaufman deftly interweave the macabre with lightheartedness. Desson Howe

New York Post

A head-clearing, mind-blowing blast from the past - one of the year's best. Lou Lumenick

Product Details

Release Date: 11/01/2011
UPC: 0031398145691
Original Release: 2002
Rating: R
Source: Miramax Lionsgate
Region Code: A
Time: 1:54:00

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