CONFESSIONS OF A DANGEROUS MIND
Lost But Almost Found
Release Date: December 27, 2002
Genre: Comedy/Satire/Comic Thriller
Runtime: 113 minutes
Distributor: Miramax Films/Buena Vista (Disney)
Director: George Clooney
Producer: Andrew Lazar
Writer: Charlie Kaufman
Address Comments To:Bob and Harvey Weinstein
375 Greenwich Street
New York, NY 10013
Phone: (323) 822-4100 & (212) 941-3800
Fax: (212) 941-3846
CONFESSIONS opens with Barris in 1981 in New York, without any clothes, staring vacantly at a television set. His long-time girlfriend Penny knocks on his door and tries to rouse him from his stupor, but to no avail. “I can’t wait forever for you to marry me,” she tells him through the locked door of his apartment. “I love you so much.”
Flashback to his childhood, where Barris unsuccessfully tries to seduce a young girl. That began “my downward spiral of debauchery,” he admits in narration. “I only wanted to be loved.”
The story skips to 1955 in New York, where Barris begins his career as an executive for NBC, the peacock network. A failed relationship leads to his first sexual encounter with Penny, circa 1961. They agree to have no strings on one another. While Penny explores the 1960s counter-culture, and Barris tries to pitch his idea for THE DATING GAME, an intense man in a suit and hat approaches him to work for the CIA. Barris tries to tell the man, Jim Byrd, that he’s no killer. The man disagrees and tells Barris that he fits “the profile.”
Soon, Barris is traveling overseas with THE DATING GAME contestants, carrying out assassinations for Mr. Byrd while trying to balance his public and private life. Barris begins a long-term affair with one of his fellow spies, Patricia, and meets a German spy, Keeler, in East Germany. Barris goes on to invent THE NEWLYWED GAME and host THE GONG SHOW. He begins to receive heavy criticism, however, for polluting the public airwaves . . . and finds himself marked for death by a traitor in the CIA.
CONFESSIONS OF A DANGEROUS MIND is a weird, but enjoyable, mix of biography, spy thriller, comedy, social satire, and romance. Sam Rockwell does a dynamic job as Barris. Drew Barrymore is also excellent as the love-stricken Penny. Finally, George Clooney (who also does a fine job directing the movie), Julia Roberts and Rutger Hauer as the spies Byrd, Patricia and Keeler add the right touch of humor and suspense.
Charlie Kaufman of BEING JOHN MALKOVICH and the current ADAPTATION wrote the script for CONFESSIONS OF A DANGEROUS MIND. Compared to those two movies, CONFESSIONS has the more powerful and satisfying ending. Both Barris and Penny finally realize the emptiness of their libertine lifestyles, and Barris eventually seems to find some peace in his life. He still does not find God, however, and retains his cynical attitude about Americans and their habits.
Although the relatively positive ending contains some Christian symbolism and images, including references to Mary and the baby Jesus, the movie fails to capitalize on this Christian content. Also, there is plenty of very strong foul language and overt sexual immorality in CONFESSIONS OF A DANGEROUS MIND, especially in the movie’s first half. A more tasteful presentation might have helped this movie reach a wider audience. Still, the mental breakdown and spiritual epiphany that Barris has toward the end were quite powerfully done.
CONFESSIONS OF A DANGEROUS MIND is a weird, but enjoyable, mix of biography, spy thriller, comedy, social satire, and romance. Sam Rockwell does a dynamic job as Barris. Moviegoers may also enjoy the rest of the cast. The mental breakdown and spiritual epiphany that Barris has toward the end are quite powerfully done. Although the relatively positive ending contains some Christian symbolism and images, the movie fails to capitalize on this Christian content. Also, CONFESSIONS contains plenty of very strong foul language and sexual content, especially in its first half