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Confessions of a Dangerous Mind

The fine line between hitman and game show host has never been so accurately investigated and explored than in the haunting and chilling new film, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind.

The movie is based upon the book of the same name, and it claims to depict the true story of one Chuck Barris, creator of, among other things, The Dating Game, The Newlywed Game and The Gong Show (for which he also served as host). According to his own story, Chuck picked up an extra paycheck by whacking international targets for the CIA. Nice work if you can get it.

Whether you want to believe this rather incredible tale or not, the film's a heck of a lot of fun to watch. If nothing else, it sure is fun to pretend that everything is true. It also does its best to explain the things that have always puzzled us, such as why The Dating Game gave out grand prize vacations to places like West Berlin and Helsinki.

Confessions of a Dangerous Mind stars Sam Rockwell, of Galaxy Quest fame, Drew Barrymore, of Charlie's Angels fame, Julia Roberts, of breaking up a marriage fame, and George Clooney, of George Clooney fame. Clooney also doubles as director, making this his feature film debut. And like all Industry lifers finally given a chance behind the camera, he tries to out do himself from time to time, giving us an elaborate camera shot or set piece when a simple talking head shot would have worked better. But that isn't to take away from the film, rather, it adds to the film's quirkiness, and makes it that much more amusing.

See, only someone like George Clooney, a man who has grown up in the Hollywood Industrial Complex, decides to make a movie about a TV personality/hit man. It's just a little too surreal. And in fact, the movie is very surreal, fun though it may well be.

But I don't want to poo-poo on this parade, because the movie is a jolly good bit of fun. Sam Rockwell is a revelation as Chuckie Barris, over the top without going over the top, Drew Barrymore is fine and dandy as his special lady friend, George Clooney is wonderfully droll as Chuck's CIA contact and Julia Roberts sure is pretty, don't you think?

And then there's the possibility that everything in the movie is based on the truth. How awesome would that be? I mean what if Chuck Barris were a one-man CIA A-Team? When you think about it, wouldn't you feel safer if more of TV's stars turned out to be secret agents guarding the world from Communism, Fanaticism, or whatever -ism is hot today? And wouldn't that be a great addition to Reality TV?

"Natasha has culled her list of future husbands from twenty five to three- who will she chop up into little pieces for the sake of national security tonight? Find out on 'The Butcherette'!"

Now there's a must-TiVo show if I've ever seen one.

Confessions of a Dangerous Mind toys with you, plays with you, and does a bunch of really neat camera tricks that turn out not to be camera tricks but rather elaborately staged sequences in the comfort of a sound stage. George is going to be a good director, and he will eventually look back at this film and be proud for what he accomplished, but also shake his head at how clever he was trying to be. Trust the script, George, it's trying to be clever enough as it is.

When all is said and done, you should go and see this movie. You will most likely enjoy it. If it's all a big fantasy, then it's a wild ride. If it's all a true story, then life is a heck of lot more interesting than we thought.

I'm giving Confessions of a Dangerous Mind 4 Babylons. I'm hoping that's a decent enough score not to piss off Mr. Barris. After all, he may be lurking just around the corner with a loaded 9mm and a fabulous consolation prize.

Editor's Note:

Did you know that back in '98 the SMC actually applied for a position as a secret agent at the real life FBI? He never got a rejection notice that I know of, so maybe...

Rated: R
Directed By: George Clooney
Starring: Sam Rockwell, George Clooney, Drew Barrymore, Julia Roberts, Rutger Hauer, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and Dick Clark. An older Dick Clark. Or maybe it's a younger Dick Clark. Who can ever tell?

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