“Confessions of a Dangerous Mind” is the first of its kind since the Andy Kaufman’s biographic movie, “Man on the Moon.” It’s an unauthorized autobiography about game show guru, Chuck Barris, founder of such classics as “The Dating Game,” “The Newlywed Game” and “The Gong Show.” It documents Barris’s involvement in a love triangle with sex, power and murder. Moreover, it shows a man who achieved everything he wanted except happiness simply because, in the end, the means didn’t justify the cause. (This, of course, is just my interpretation. The movie is such that several views could be taken from it.)
Artistic and jumpy to a fault, this movie is not for those who are seeking two hours of mindless entertainment because this movie makes you think. It’s easy to lose the actual plot among the flashbacks, daydreams, hallucinations and nightmares that take place in the movie. Thus, it can, at times, become quite confusing. In addition, Sam Rockwell, who does a brilliant job portraying Barris, seems to be awfully proud of his butt. Though I wasn’t counting, I would estimate that at least ten non-sex scene shots of his butt appear throughout the movie. Nothing against his butt, but after the first several showings, it became unnecessary and repetitive.
Award shows will have a difficult time categorizing this movie because it’s both a comedy and a drama. Among the funniest moments is one that took place during a shooting of “The Dating Game,” where Brad Pitt and Matt Damon make cameos as contestants. I’m not sure which part was better: seeing them decked out in 70s prep apparel or that a portly man with a receding hairline beats them. Other humorous scenes are the result of questions the bachelorette asks on “The Dating Game.” For example, the bachelorette asks, “Bachelor number two, if you were a trumpet and I blew you, how would you sound?”
Chuck Barris is also known for creating the concept of “whoopie.” That is game show talk for sex. The crowd got a giggle out of the first appearance of that word. Oh, speaking of “whoopie,” this movie is full of it. It’s not such one kind of whoopie either. We see success whoopie, boring whoopie, nice to meet you whoopie, shower whoopie and casual whoopie, and that is just the first 20 minutes. Be on the lookout for table whoopie, cheating whoopie and of course, make up whoopie. Did I mention this is not a movie for kids?
The cast is amazing. I could rave for hours about Sam Rockwell. If you saw “The Gong Show” and then saw this movie, you would swear that Barris had been cryogenically frozen and then thawed to make this movie. He captured every emotion and delivers every line with complete accuracy and feeling.
George Clooney, who plays CIA official Jim Byrd and who is ultimately responsible for involving Barris in a web of death, is amazing as always. In addition, this was Clooney’s directing debut, and if this is any indication, he definitely has a future in this field. Drew Barrymore was also perfectly cast as Penny. She isn’t a stand out character, but she has a great look for the role of the quirky, bubbly love of Barris’s life. The only main character who I felt didn’t completely fit her role was Julia Roberts. She plays the seductive secret agent but, as pretty as she is, I just don’t see her playing roles outside of the “Stepmom” area.
In addition to the superb acting, the artistic quality of this movie is top notch, as applied to camera angles and the basic set up of shots. There is no pattern to the shots, which really aids the movie during its slow parts by keeping the audience on their feet.
If you are looking for a movie that will keep you alert and perhaps spawn an intelligent conversation afterwards, then see this movie and enjoy the dramatic styling of Sam Rockwell and George Clooney.