Chuck Barris: Trash TV pioneer or CIA assassin?

Miramax/All rights reserved

DREW BARRYMORE and Sam Rockwell are creditable in Confessions of a Dangerous Mind.

A shadowy figure observes Barris from afar and eventually approaches him with the proposition to become an assassin working for the CIA, for a lot of money. The recruiter, Jim Byrd (George Clooney) convinces Barris that their research shows Chuck would be perfect for the job. He accepts.

When he travels to kill, his contact is Patricia (Julia Roberts). He beds her, as well as many other women in the film. When he meets Penny (Drew Barrymore), it's something special, but he doesn't commit himself to her or anybody. Penny becomes his great love, but not to marry.

There is a particularly satisfying scene when Chuck is at a resort party. There's a gorgeous woman in the pool, eyeing Chuck flirtatiously. When they get to an isolated place where he is poolside and she swims to meet him, we expect a passionate liaison. Instead the girl tells him, in no uncertain terms, what she thinks of him and his work. Very refreshing.

And so we're left to decide whether Chuck Barris was actually an international assassin while he was doing his television stuff. There are three ways to judge his claim: 1) it's true; 2) its imagined; i.e., it never happened, but he believes it did (a la John Nash of A Beautiful Mind) or 3) Barris made the whole thing up and the memoir is a work of fiction. For myself, I discount the first. I think the third explanation, a fictional work, is the most likely.

Sam Rockwell as Chuck and Drew Barrymore as Penny do a creditable job in the film. As for Julia Roberts, what is she doing in this picture, in that role? It seemed like a waste to me. The movie has an abundance of foul language, explicit sexual scenes, sexual references and violence; its 'R' rating is appropriate.

Confessions of a Dangerous Mind is an interesting movie, but not one that nudges any other film out of contention for awards.

Confessions of a Dangerous Mind is at the Harkins Sedona 6 Theater.

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