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Confessions of a Dangerous Mind /

Rated: R

Starring: Sam Rockwell, Drew Barrymore, George Clooney, Julia Roberts, Fred Savage 

Directed by: George Clooney, Steven Soderbergh 

Produced by: Andrew Lazar, Steven Reuther 

Written by: Charlie Kaufman, Chuck Barris 

Distributor: Miramax


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Movie Image
Movie Image

    Confessions of a Dangerous Mind is a beautifully made film, and if I was just basing my review on its detailed style, I would call George Clooney a newborn directorial genius. Unfortunately, the film lacks substance, and gives viewers nothing to cheer about. Audiences don’t feel involved in the story, which is treading on little material. I don’t think that this script is actually interesting enough to make a movie about. Even so, the excellent performances, direction, and sets keep Confessions of a Dangerous Mind afloat.

     The story, which would’ve been intriguing if there was more to it, just doesn’t work. It bases itself on Chuck Barris’ autobiography. Barris’ was a famous television producer, who created shows like “The Newlywed Game” and “The Dating Game.” He became established in the business, but this was only his cover by day. Mr. Barris was also a hitman for the CIA. Despite what many would think, this television producer perfectly fit the profile for the dirty, violent job. In addition to creating fun-loving games for happy couples, Chuck killed thirty-three human beings.

     Clooney’s direction is nothing short of amazing. It recreates the time period perfectly for film, similar to what Spielberg did in Catch Me If You Can. Each shot is perfectly positioned, and has a unique look to it. Continuing on the directorial success of fellow actor Denzel Washington’s Antwone Fisher, Clooney definitely gives us what we want. He is just as successful as an actor in this film, too. His character, Jim Byrd, is the man who recruits Barris for the CIA. As good as Clooney is in his supporting role, the actor that overshadows everyone is Sam Rockwell, who plays Chuck Barris himself.

     Rockwell plays a great Barris, though I’m not sure that his performance is one of the best of 2002. It almost feels like all of the roles in the film are toned down, until the last five minutes, when every character opens up. Rockwell isn’t creative, but he’s just damned good. There have been a lot of bizarre movies this year, and Confessions of a Dangerous Mind is one of them. Two of these have, in fact, been George Clooney projects. Even Julia Roberts, one of Hollywood’s finest actresses, sleepwalks through her tiny role. This film is like a pleasing, but low-key and uninventive collage of an utterly bizarre story.

     Confessions of a Dangerous Mind doesn’t show us “special” filmmaking, but I did have a good time watching it. Its easy-going feel works to its advantage – so mainstream viewers don’t feel overblown by some of the rather odd material. Truthfully, the most errors in the film are found in the writing. I can see why screenwriter Charlie Kaufman struggled in adapting Susan Orlean’s “The Orchid Thief,” (the subject matter of his other film this year: Adaptation), because he can barely get away with making this film, which has a much simpler complex. This is just about the perfect film to rent, or catch on HBO, because it’s nothing special. But was it worth my six bucks? – Probably.

     Right now, there are a ton of films in release, that much better than Confessions of a Dangerous Mind. Its attempts are recognizable, but most of the time, they settle for second place. I don’t admire this in a film, but at least this one is durable. I walked into the theatre expecting a high-energy, authentically provoking, full-fledged riot. I received much less that expected, and I am not happy with the result. This film isn’t one of the more memorable of the past year, but it will, guaranteed, light up a boring day. I’m not sure that I liked it, all in all, but several other members of the target audience, will.

-Danny, Bucket Reviews


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