CONFESSIONS OF A DANGEROUS MIND: DVD
Chuck Barris (Sam Rockwell) is young and ambitious, intent on a successful career in the
early days of television. He quickly gains a profile as a producer, creating innovative
and popular game shows such as The Dating Game, The Newlywed Game and the self-hosted The
Gong Show. But while acting as the travel chaperone for winners of the television
programmes, he is recruited by the CIA’s Jim Byrd (George Clooney) to act as an
assassin in foreign countries. Meantime at home, Barris’ long time girlfriend Penny
Pacino (Drew Barrymore) doesn’t know and can’t understand why her man is away so
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Hey, what if the CIA recruited a tv show host as an offshore hitman – the perfect
cover -and the double life elements make great copy. It’s the sort of thing that
could inspire a man to write a book, especially if he was a real tv producer with shows as
tacky as The Dating Game or The Gong Show. The juxtaposition of occupations is of such
intensity as to be ethereal. But how do you pull it off? Nobody would take it seriously.
You can’t spoof your own work – nobody’d finance that, it’s creative
death and commercial suicide. Ahaaa, but what if the tv producer and presenter was a REAL
one…. Chuck Barris, say. Now you’re talking turkey.
And so it was that George Clooney read Barris’ book and decided this was the project
he would use as his directing debut. Lots of pluses to work with, including the fact that
nobody would question the storyline. (Well, you know what I mean.) And when big name stars
started falling over each other to play even roles like the Unknown Comic* with a paper
bag over their heads, he must have realised the projects had potential.
Mike Myers was going to play Barris at one stage, but it finally went to Sam Rockwell, and
just as well. Myers would have been wonderful, but the film needs to stay within the vague
realms of possibility. Myers would have blown that, purely by his screen persona (can you
see him as anything but Austin Powers?) Riddled with self doubt and always on the edge of
a nervous breakdown, Rockwell’s Barris is a hyperactive firecracker zig-zagging
through his life.
It’s great fun to watch and we are never sure what exactly is going on – but we
know that something is. *Trivia to titillate you: in a large Las Vegas hotel some years
ago, I saw the very funny and original The Unknown Comic (real name Murray Langston), just
after The Gong Show had catapulted him to fame, and met him backstage – then in my
capacity as Editor of Encore magazine, which in those days covered live entertainment. He
had volunteered for The Gong Show to make a bit of money, but he was too embarrassed to
appear on the show as himself, then a struggling stand up comic. So he put a bag over his
head and billed himself as The Unknown Comic.
The Gong Show Acts on this DVD extras package is a mini freak show, but may tickle your
funny bone, if you can stand Sam Rockwell’s annoying intros. More intriguing than
informative, the 6 minute feature, The Real Chuck Barris is misnamed. It’s a glimpse,
and it isn’t the real Chuck; he never admits anything. But it’s an interesting
juxtaposition, especially as he looks just like Sam Rockwell may when he gets that old.
But you, like me, will probably head straight for the Is It True featurette, one of seven
mini-chapters in the Behind The Scenes section. And I’ll let you enjoy this short
item without preconceptions. The other chapters include How It Got Made, Sam’s
Interpretationand George The Director.
But there’s more of George the director in the audio commentary, which he shares with
Tom Sigel, the cinematographer. It has a nicely casual tone from the start, a chat between
the two collegues, discoursing, enlightening and reminiscing as if sitting on a porch with
a beer in front of a screen, low key - but high value. They include personal asides (eg
Drew Barrymore’s divorce announcement coinciding with the second day of shooting) and
amusing anecdotes. They seem to be simply enjoying watching their own movie! And so do we,
seeing it again, in all its earnest craziness.
Published December 11, 2003
Email this article
CONFESSIONS OF A DANGEROUS MIND: DVD (MA)
CAST: Sam Rockwell, George Clooney, Drew Barrymore, Julia Roberts
DIRECTOR: George Clooney
SCRIPT: Charlie Kaufman (novel by Chuck Barris)
RUNNING TIME: 109 minutes
PRESENTATION: 16:9, DD 5.1 English & German
SPECIAL FEATURES: Audio commentary with director George Clooney and cinematographer Tom Sigel; Behind the Scenes, Sam Rockwell screen test; the Real Chuck Barris; Gong Show Acts
DVD DISTRIBUTOR: BVHE
DVD RELEASE: November 19, 2003