This is an adaptation of the autobiography of game show creator and host Chuck Barris, who gave us The Dating Game, The Newlywed Game and The Gong Show. According to Barris, while he was feeding trash to the American public, he was also a CIA contract assassin. Charlie Kaufman's script actually takes this claim seriously, putting us in Barris's place as he sits down to write his way out of a mental breakdown. The film takes on an even more Kaufmanesque shape when we realize Barris is a puppeteer who is himself on another man's strings -- but they couldn't call the film Being Chuck Barris. Clooney does nice work in his directing debut, giving the film a distinctive look and calling on some related star power (Julia Roberts takes fourth billing as a femme fatale, Brad Pitt and Matt Damon have tiny cameos), but his triumph is casting veteran unknown Sam Rockwell, a chameleon-like actor who's barely recognizable from role to role, who offers an uncanny embodiment of Barris's manic neediness. More entertaining than anyone would expect.
CONFESSIONS OF A DANGEROUS MIND (George Clooney) Rating: NNNN