Confessions of a Dangerous Mind

7.01 h 53 min2003X-RayR
HD. Cult-classic based on game show host Chuck Barris' fanciful memoir in which he claimed that he led a secret double life as a CIA assassin.
George Clooney
Drew BarrymoreGeorge ClooneyJulia Roberts
English [CC]
Audio languages
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Supporting actors
Sam Rockwell
R (Restricted)
Content advisory
Alcohol usefoul languagenuditysexual contentsmokingviolence
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4.2 out of 5 stars

901 global ratings

  1. 61% of reviews have 5 stars
  2. 18% of reviews have 4 stars
  3. 11% of reviews have 3 stars
  4. 5% of reviews have 2 stars
  5. 6% of reviews have 1 stars
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Top reviews from the United States

joel wingReviewed in the United States on February 7, 2021
4.0 out of 5 stars
It makes the unbelievable seem possible
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This movie is based upon a book by Chuck Barris who was a well-known game show creator and host in the 1960s-70s. I remember him for the Gong Show that I used to watch as a kid. He also made the Dating Game and the Newlywed Game. In his book he claimed he was an assassin for the CIA. The movie is a biography of his life including those shows plus his alleged role killing for the Agency. It features Sam Rockwell as Barris and was directed by George Clooney who also plays a CIA agent that recruits him.

The plot is crazy because one moment Barris is freaking out about one of his game shows and the next he’s being sent to Finland to carry out a hit for the Agency. That’s the whole point of the movie to make the ridiculous seem possible. Rockwell plays Barris as a kind of mad genius who is also neurotic. That meant he could never be happy. It doesn’t seem like this concept would work but it really does. Clooney did a great job putting it together and Rockwell executed the role well.
5 people found this helpful
Dennis LittrellReviewed in the United States on September 21, 2016
5.0 out of 5 stars
A lot of fun to watch
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As I was watching this expecting not too much and a bit distracted I was wondering vaguely how this managed to get such a good cast. Surprisingly the movie surprised. This a fine example of the “hit man” genre infused with comedy. Yes, they made yet another hit man movie…I mean let’s glorify the poor bast…guys. So, so Hollywood. I actually Googled “hit man movies” and I was surprised at how many there have been. I’ve seen maybe a half dozen, and if I feel like making the effort I’ll look them up and make a list.

But this movie creates another genre: the hit man comedy. “Leon: The Professional” (1994) and “Panic” (2000) gave us the hit man we can identify with and empathize with while experiencing a little satirical intent along the way. But this expands the possibilities. I mean the hit man is Chuck Barris (oh, boy) of “The Gong Show” fame and infamy played by Sam Rockwell as the heroic flawed hero. (Story based on Barris’s own book. Ha!) And how did the director get such a great cast? I mean George Clooney, Drew Barrymore, Julia Roberts and Sam Rockwell. Answer: George Clooney directed a script by Charlie Kaufman. Yes, Clooney was the director and did an outstanding job; and yes, Charlie Kaufman is the author of screenplays for such cutting edge and entirely original films as “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” (2004) and “Being John Malkovich” (1999).

So yes I would be persuaded to take a role and not worry about the box office. BTW there are some interesting cameos including Brad Pitt and Matt Damon as The Dating Game contestants. They appear almost as sight jokes.

--Dennis Littrell, author of the movie review book, “Cut to the Chaise Lounge, or I Can’t Believe I Swallowed the Remote”
12 people found this helpful
Rod SeversonReviewed in the United States on June 12, 2018
5.0 out of 5 stars
GONG!!!...this movie will ring your bell...
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This was a fantastic movie, it shows that Sam Rockwell is a great actor, George Clooney gave us the best definition of a; ' spook '...
And Chuck Barris really changed the face of television, my favorite was the gong show, amazing that people would make an
ass of themselves to be on TV...
Having been to the old East Berlin, i was amazed at how well they depicted the most depressing place that I've ever been to,
no wonder so many people committed suicide...I think Sam Rockwell is a highly underrated actor, and this movie shows that
he deserves more credit...
6 people found this helpful
Benjamin HermanReviewed in the United States on January 14, 2013
4.0 out of 5 stars
A highly underrated, intriguing, and utterly bizarre movie
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Confessions of a Dangerous Mind is the directorial debut of George Clooney, based on a screenplay by Charlie Kaufman. Supposedly there was a lack of communication between the two, which led to dissatisfaction on Kaufman's part. Well, at least according to Wikipedia, but that website is often only slightly more accurate in its adherence to reality than Chuck Barris was in his autobiography of the same name. (Was Barris really a CIA hitman who murdered 33 people? Probably not, but who the heck knows?) Whatever the case, the final script is very good. As far as the direction, Clooney is amazing. It's astonishing that this was his first time behind the camera, because he totally knocked it out of the park.

The cast of Confessions of a Dangerous Mind are all superb. Heading up the film is Sam Rockwell, who does eerily stunning work capturing the persona & mannerisms of Chuck Barris. He portrays Barris as a veritable con artist, a self-involved, womanizing egotist who eventually descends into paranoia, isolation, and madness. It's an amazing performance. Based on this, I'm genuinely surprised that Rockwell isn't a bigger name. But, of course, in Hollywood talent and fame don't often align with the frequency that they should.

The rest of the cast is also noteworthy. Drew Barrymore plays Penny, the long suffering girlfriend of Barris who puts up with his constant lies & cheating. Clooney himself plays Jim Byrd, the icy CIA agent who recruits Barris. Julia Roberts portrays Patricia, a seductive spy who serves as Barris' contact in the field. Now, I am generally not a fan of Roberts' work. However, watching her here, I was actually impressed. It was interesting to see her in a darker, more cynical role than she usually plays. She certainly did fine work with it. Rounding out the cast is the amazing, underrated Rutger Hauer. His character Keeler is a philosophizing veteran hitman who befriends Barris. It's always a pleasure to see Hauer on the screen. Even when cast in a relatively small supporting role such as this, he gives it his all, turning in a charismatic performance.

At first, I was genuinely surprised to learn that Confessions of a Dangerous Mind was a box office bomb. I thought it was an amazing film, and so did my girlfriend. But reflecting on it, I quickly realized that the movie is not easily classifiable. It starts off as a comedy, but then transitions into a dark, disturbing look at a rather unlikable man living a double life who gradually experiences a mental breakdown. Is it supposed to be humorous or somber? Well, both. But I think that for many viewers, who like to compartmentalize their entertainment into comfortable, easily absorbed categories, a film such as Confessions of a Dangerous Mind can be a turn off, as it straddles so many genres.

I definitely recommend giving this movie a try. It really is an amazing film. Myself, I'm looking forward to watching it again.
8 people found this helpful
rick in houstonReviewed in the United States on July 13, 2015
3.0 out of 5 stars
3 stars because there is some good work here
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3 stars because there is some good work here, notably from the cast. I went in not knowing much about the movie, so just wanted to be entertained a bit. At some point, trying to put the pieces together as as "actual" story of Chuck Barris, of Gong Show fame, I found my interest waning rapidly. Other reviewers made worthwhile comments about the over-the-top approach reflecting the over-the-top nature of the idea that CB served as an assassin etc etc, and those comments are probably on the mark. I didn't find it enough over the top to be engaging on that score, or enough like a credible story of a life to be engaging on that level. I wouldn't say it's worth seeking out, but if you happen across it give it a view. What could it hurt?
3 people found this helpful
Robert I. HedgesReviewed in the United States on February 3, 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars
The Dark and Disturbing Gong
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This movie, based on the Chuck Barris 'Unauthorized Biography' of the same name, is twisted and compelling. Known to the world as host of "The Gong Show" and producer of other silly game shows, the plot alleges that Chuck led a double life as a CIA hit man. I recall reading the book when it first came out when I was in high school and finding it hugely entertaining though altogether unlikely.
When I heard it was being made into a feature film I was ecstatic, as I was always a fan of Barris. Overall this adaptation is quite good, but a good deal more depressing that I would have liked. Even the book, which has been recently re-released, is considerably more upbeat than the film. In his directorial debut, George Clooney acquits himself quite well. The film has an almost film noir feel to it, though I feel it's taken to extremes, for example in Julia Roberts' costumes: they scream 'cold war' so loudly, you might for a moment forget that you aren't watching Rocky and Bullwinkle chase Boris and Julia Roberts hither and yon.
The sets and locations are brilliant (for more on this, I highly recommend a viewing with the commentary turned on) and do accurately convey the era. The technical aspects of the film are brilliantly executed. Visual effects (mostly done 'in camera', i.e. not through cuts or editing) are superior. Particularly impressive is the 'rotating set' technique, which is explained in one of the special features. The sound editing is particularly noteworthy as well. The expression of unseen activities and moods through sound in this film is breathtaking, particularly in the pool scene late in the film.
Acting here is generally first rate: Sam Rockwell nails the Barris mannerisms, and Clooney is brilliant as the never smiling CIA recruiter. Drew Barrymore does yeoman's work in one of the more complex parts in the movie, and veteran Rutger Hauer is in peak form in a psychologically difficult part. The only performance I was not fond of was that of Julia Roberts, who, through a combination of direction and native acting abilities, came across as cartoonish, and distinctly less believable than the rest of the ensemble.
This is a fascinating and disturbing movie, a film that is more a psychological thriller than anything else. The DVD comes with some great extras, including deleted scenes, and an excellent audio commentary. It also comes with a short feature titled "The Real Chuck Barris Documentary", which is a gem and an absolute treasure for fans. Although the film was darker than I would have liked, it was generally well acted and directed, with innovative plot twists worthy of a story of intrigue and espionage.
4 people found this helpful
Michael GriswoldReviewed in the United States on April 23, 2016
4.0 out of 5 stars
The Oddness of Chuck Barris
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Look I don’t know if Chuck Barris was some sort of television game show producer/CIA operative or if he’s full of it. Confessions of a Dangerous Mind really doesn’t get us any closer to a fact or fiction determination on that score, but it is a pretty cool flick. You get taken into his double life of sorts with this beautiful cinematography with the contrast of lights and darks depending on where he is. It really helps to create this image of a man of two lives who steadily becomes darker and more forbidding even in happy times.

Coupled with an A level cast who seemed to make the story leap off the screen. One may not get any closer to a truth, but Confessions of a Dangerous Mind is a very enjoyable almost two hour thrill ride that won’t leave movie goers bored or disinterested.
One person found this helpful
M. JEFFREY MCMAHONReviewed in the United States on July 24, 2006
5.0 out of 5 stars
Delusional and Paranoid Meltdown
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I like films that deal with Faustian characters who trade their soul for money and fame. Take Boogie Nights and Mulholland Dr., two of my favorites. Now Confessions of a Dangerous Mind. Like those other two movies, we have a character who throws his whole life away to become a glittery celebrity. As such, Chuck Barris creates such abominations as Dating Game, Newlywed Game, The Gong Show. His TV ideas we learn are born out of his disgust for the human race: its need to be seen on TV even in a foolish light; its love of money even if it means selling out your spouse. In addition to seeing Barris' inner mind work as he creates these popular programs, we see his parallel life--mostly delusional we are to assume--of his job in the CIA, complete with killing 33 people. We assume this delusion is designed to make him feel important.

The film truly captures the pathos of the Faustian Bargain and is even suggestive, especially with its mother conflict and the need for unconditional love, of the masterpiece Citizen Kane.
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