Confessions of a Dangerous Mind
**** GM
Starring: Sam Rockwell, Drew Barrymore, George Clooney, Julia Roberts, Rutger Hauer

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Goddamn, I loved this movie.

I'm hard-pressed to say whether or not I liked this movie a lot because I wanted SO MUCH to love it or if it was as awesome as I think it is, but dammit, I enjoyed myself a lot and would definitely see it again.

This is the truly brilliant concept: Chuck Barris, creator of erstwhile television staples "The Dating Game" and "The Newlywed Game" (but who I remember most as that weird-hat wearin' host of that weird-ass "Gong Show") wrote an autobiography, and this is the film version of it. What makes this a million times cooler than any other biopic is that Barris claims to have been a covert CIA assassin when he was at the height of his fame. I heard this, and I thought "Genius! I LOVE that idea! This would be along the lines of a Ninja Pat Sajak!" Then the more I heard about it, the more I discovered that there's actually some question as to whether or not this claim is true. I'd immediately assumed it was bupkus - a hilarious invention from Barris' comic mind, but interviews shown in the film lend it credence as being conceivably true, and the film itself actually takes the subject seriously, which is EXACTLY what this film needed. None of these pseudo-70s stylized "Charlie's Angels" crap-ass ain't-we-so-hip-it-hurts wacky "fun" monkeyshines, but an actual what-if scenario played out as if it's gospel, or perhaps the invention of a madman's mind - a dangerous antithesis to John Forbes Nash.

Be it comic fantasy, delusional insanity or twisted reality, the film works on all levels. Sam Rockwell is hilarious and perfectly fucked-up as Chuck Barris, commitment problems, barfighting frustration and all. He's got a dark streak that belies his happy-fun-time game show stewardship, and realizing why he "fits the profile" and starts to see killing people as a way to soothe a stressed-out mind freaks him out considerably. The performance is just dy-no-mite. George Clooney is also good, playing against type as a monotone stoic and enigmatic operative that recruits Barris into the program and gets him operating as a freelance work-when-you-want-to, we'll-call-when-we-need-you assassin.

This is George Clooney's directorial debut, too, and I already liked the guy. Look at what this guy's accomplished - he served as a delightfully wry blue-collar handyman for Mrs. Garrett on "The Facts of Life," for which we all owe him a debt of gratitude. He played a handsome bloke what saves lives on that "ER" deal. He singlehandedly helped "South Park" make it onto the airwaves by distributing hundreds of copies of "The Spirit of Christmas" throughout his Hollywood friends. He made a kickass movie like "Out of Sight" and completely morphed his acting style for an even better movie called O Brother Where Art Thou?, and pulled off some smooth-ass shenanigans in Ocean's Eleven. Now, he's created this ceaselessly interesting piece of work, and I'm ready to hand him an Oscar now. I still maintain he could make a great Batman if he had a director and a script worth a damn, and didn't have a lummox running around spouting off "You aah nahht puttink ME in da coolah!" at him.

The only thing that almost kept this film from getting a full four-star rating is that I don't think I'm able to buy Drew Barrymore as anything other than Drew Barrymore anymore. She does a decent job here as Barris' longtime girlfriend Penny, and there's enough humanity and compassion in her performance for me to overlook any of those Drew-Ass Drew moments and go with it. Everything else around her is so good, it's easy to forgive a shaky moment or two.

I can't count the number of times I muttered 'yes!' to myself as cool shit kept happening. That last scene of confession, the confusion and mutual agreement that he never has to mention his shady past again now that he's been honest once as long as she convinces herself to keep believing that he was only joking about it all is done absolutely perfectly, and resonates well over the final images of the aged Chuck.

I got no problem with this film. Gimme some more, George, because I'm officially your fan.

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