More in-depth film festival coverage than any other website!
Home Reviews  Articles  Release Dates Coming Soon  DVD  Top 20s Criticwatch  Search
Public Forums  Festival Coverage  Contests About 

Overall Rating

Awesome: 33.03%
Worth A Look34.86%
Average: 11.93%
Pretty Bad: 7.34%
Total Crap: 12.84%

9 reviews, 55 user ratings

Latest Reviews

Charlie's Angels (2019) by Jay Seaver

Harriet by Jay Seaver

Greener Grass by Jay Seaver

Two Tigers by Jay Seaver

Dare to Stop Us by Jay Seaver

White Snake by Jay Seaver

Knives Out by Peter Sobczynski

21 Bridges by Jay Seaver

Frozen 2 by Peter Sobczynski

Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, A by Peter Sobczynski

subscribe to this feed

Confessions of a Dangerous Mind
[] Buy posters from this movie
by EricDSnider

"Chuck Barris is back with more STUFF."
4 stars

Many actors have turned into directors, but few have had such auspicious first outings as George Clooney does with "Confessions of a Dangerous Mind," the loopy, absurdly entertaining biography of "Gong Show" creator Chuck Barris.

The story -- which is based on Barris' "unauthorized autobiography" and which contains several straight-faced elements of fiction -- lends itself naturally to absurdity; having a screenplay adaptation by Charlie Kaufman ("Adaptation," "Being John Malkovich") certainly helps matters. But who knew Clooney had such a mischievous, inventive streak in him?

Ah, but we did. His off-kilter performance in "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" (2000), his participation in the "South Park" movie (1999), his wry work in "Out of Sight" (1998) and "Three Kings" (1999) -- Clooney has given us glimpses of his impish side all along. It stands to reason his first trip behind the camera would yield such giddy results.

This is the story of an unlikely character named Chuck Barris (played by Sam Rockwell), a Philadelphia boy whose over-active sex drive led to rage and fistfights, and eventually to more trouble than that. Barris found his way into television, ultimately convincing network executives that his idea for a game show called "The Dating Game" would be a hit. He followed it with "The Newlywed Game" and the no-talent cavalcade "The Gong Show," the latter of which he hosted and which was decried at the time as being the low point in the history of television. (In the 1970s, the Fox network didn't exist, so low points were not nearly as low as they are now.)

In the midst of all this, Barris claims in his memoir, he was hired by the CIA as an assassin. His contact in the film is a mysterious figure named Jim Byrd (Clooney), one Patricia Wilson (Julia Roberts) his femme fatale. Whether the CIA stuff is true or not, the film doesn't care. It's in the book, and it makes the story a little zanier, so it stays.

Sam Rockwell's performance as Barris is splendid, perfectly capturing the man's idiosyncrasies and mannerisms. To the extent that the film allows it (which is not much), he also conveys Barris' fears and self-doubts, his uncertainty whether any of it -- the CIA, the game shows, anything -- makes sense. Rockwell has always been a reliable supporting actor; here he is given the opportunity to shine, and he takes the leading role with precise, comical gusto.

And who better to play Barris' free-spirited hippie girlfriend than Drew Barrymore? Enough said about that.

Clooney's directorial style is whimsical in the best sense of the word, never being content to let something just appear on the screen if there's a more interesting way of showing it. Characters pop into shots out of nowhere, and a moving camera often catches as many well-timed entrances and exits as it does lines of dialogue. Kudos also to the cinematographer, Newton Thomas Sigel ("Three Kings," "The Usual Suspects"), who uses over-saturated color to mimic the time periods, giving much of the film a surreal quality that is perfectly appropriate.

The CIA material, surprisingly, is not nearly as interesting as Barris' experiences in television. Perhaps it's because we can rely on most of those stories, while the hired-assassin business seems fishy and therefore worthy of less attention. Whatever the reason, the film loses some of its steam when it turns to the hitman scenes. When it focuses on the madness of television, though, it runs on all cylinders, churning out a succession of giggly sequences that make for an entertaining film, if not exactly an insightful one.

link directly to this review at
originally posted: 08/08/05 16:48:24
[printer] printer-friendly format  
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 Sydney Film Festival. For more in the 2003 Sydney Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

3/13/13 Jeff Wilder Doesn't totally work. But ambitious and entertaining enough to merit a viewing. 4 stars
12/05/08 K. Sear Quirky and witty just as we have come to expect from Kaufman. 4 stars
11/26/08 Leo T alot of fun, screwed up plot...but in the best possible way 5 stars
8/01/08 Monday Morning Tried to watch this twice, only got 20 minutes in twice. Terrible. 2 stars
11/19/07 Erica Munro Worst movir I ever saw!!!! 1 stars
7/24/07 fools♫gold Total romantic bullshit with devilish feel-good music and a damned killer! 5 stars
12/14/06 R.W.Welch Hard to take seriously but a good yarn nonetheless. Rockwell right on. 4 stars
11/14/06 AJ Muller Clooney-the real deal; Rockwell-phenomenally gifted. Immensely entertaining and fun. 5 stars
8/18/05 ES do you like movies that are crazy and don't mean a thing? = then watch this! 1 stars
8/06/05 Zack Great film! 5 stars
5/07/05 Naka WOW! 5 stars
12/17/04 Ken Cenerelli Complex study of a true spy or man with dementia. 4 stars
12/08/04 frosty Seemed to drag. 3 stars
9/24/04 Agent Sands No one saw it, so they all SUCK! One of the most well-crafted movies of recent memory. 5 stars
8/13/04 Rocky A boring and ridiculous lie about a loser I didn't care about. Waste of time. 1 stars
5/13/04 Mickey With A C A must see 5 stars
5/06/04 Ken Rockwell should have got the Best Actor Oscar! 5 stars
4/17/04 Alex Fun and weird. Rockwell is sublime. 5 stars
4/16/04 The More You Know like nic cage's Sonny, if Sonny acted out his own fantasies...clooney directs a lil' better 3 stars
4/15/04 gordon purcell Imaginative direction, always interesting and Rockwell does a great GONG SHOW Barris 4 stars
4/15/04 Charlene Javier Good but not great! 3 stars
2/25/04 Soulis Rockwell as Barris is as good as DeNiro playing Jake Lamotta 5 stars
12/31/03 mercie its full of crappp 1 stars
10/15/03 Jinnvisible Not Bad ... ................................................................Just Average 3 stars
10/07/03 mike this movie kicks ass...seriously cool 5 stars
9/30/03 B P 1 stars
8/10/03 John Bale Dark comedy in candy floss colour, not always on target but a good directorial debut. 4 stars
7/06/03 macaulay culkin II the very most exciting film ever seen 5 stars
6/24/03 Chris It's a great movie 5 stars
5/17/03 George Jung Great directing wasted on a shit script. 3 stars
5/17/03 Mr. Hat (I'm Back Mo'Fos!) Probably THE greatest directorial debut for an actor so far in history! 4 stars
3/23/03 Winthrop J Applesmythe III brilliant. 5 stars
3/16/03 GD Williamson Almost preposterously good. Walked out of the theatre beaming. 5 stars
3/13/03 nick2k very nice...i like the cinematography alot. very noir... 5 stars
2/27/03 Vangela annoyingly smug. clooney has become unbearable. the new "rat pack" is a joke. 2 stars
2/19/03 Frodoshairytoes Great movie - Clooney is a god! 5 stars
2/18/03 Banshee Incredible all around...Rockwell deserves that Silver Bear he won in Berlin this weekend. 5 stars
2/05/03 Andrew Arnold Best movie i've seen since 5 stars
2/04/03 john great 5 stars
2/04/03 jimmybigglesworth Lot's of subtle stuff. I'd like to see it again soon. 4 stars
2/04/03 puckfreak Very entertaining!!! 4 stars
2/03/03 Zeitgeist Great acting...though the characters don't s Chuck Barris is the asshole you hate to love. 4 stars
2/03/03 Angie R A good death scene at the end and nice rental... 3 stars
2/01/03 dan interesting story, well packaged and great acting 4 stars
1/28/03 ruethewhirl it's a floor wax, and a dessert topping! 5 stars
1/28/03 Jenga Fascinating, really got me thinking about today's entertainment industry. 5 stars
1/28/03 J. F. Murphy Sam Rockwell is great, everyone else sleepwalks . A bad joke of a flick. The pits. 1 stars
1/27/03 Brian Great Cast, Strange Story, Well Presented 5 stars
1/25/03 Jake Could the cast be more annoying? Waste o'time 1 stars
1/23/03 Empress of Misrule Needed more Gene, Gene the Dancing Machine! 4 stars
1/15/03 Ayla Khan funny and bent enough to be interesting 4 stars
1/06/03 Caiphn M&R: Then why rate it, fucktards? 3 stars
1/02/03 Craig Shiner HORRIBLE 1 stars
12/28/02 Matt and Rob Haven't seen it, but it looks good! 5 stars
Note: Duplicate, 'planted,' or other obviously improper comments
will be deleted at our discretion. So don't bother posting 'em. Thanks!
Your Name:
Your Comments:
Your Location: (state/province/country)
Your Rating:

Discuss this movie in our forum

  31-Dec-2002 (R)



Home Reviews  Articles  Release Dates Coming Soon  DVD  Top 20s Criticwatch  Search
Public Forums  Festival Coverage  Contests About Australia's Largest Movie Review Database.
Privacy Policy | HBS Inc. | |   

All data and site design copyright 1997-2017, HBS Entertainment, Inc.
Search for
reviews features movie title writer/director/cast