Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.5.
USA/United Kingdom/Germany, 2002 . Miramax, Mad Chance, Section Eight, , JVS & Co.. Screenplay by Charlie Kaufman, based on the book by Chuck Barris. Cinematography by Newton Thomas Sigel. Produced by Andrew Lazar. Music by Alex Wurman. Production Design by James D. Bissell. Costume Design by Renee April. Film Editing by Stephen Mirrione. National Board of Review Awards 2002.
Chuck Barris (Sam Rockwell) made quite a career for himself: a published songwriter, television game show producer, and CIA hitman all in one lifetime. According to his autobiography, Barris claims that he was approached by a secret operative from the government agency (played here by George Clooney, who also directs) who offered him a job as a hit man based on Barris’ profile and apparent need for quick cash. Once his game show career kicked in a few years later (Barris created The Dating Game, The Gong Show and The Newlywed Game among others), he found himself still attached to this job and called upon to bump some people off in various locales around the world. Clooney elicits fantastic performances from his entire cast, especially a riveting Rockwell in the lead role, but Charlie Kaufman’s script keeps changing focus and in the end feels like five different movies in one. The photography is fantastic, while Drew Barrymore gives the film’s most delightful performance as Barris’ self-confident, longtime girlfriend. Julia Roberts has a small cameo as another spy whom Barris runs into on a regular basis, and Clooney does a great job of avoiding her American apple pie image and finally filming her as an exotic beauty.