Plot: Based on the memoir of game show innovator Chuck Barris where the author claims that he worked secretly as a CIA assassin while developing such gems as The Newlywed Game, The Dating Game, and The Gong Show.
Well, looky there! It's the ubiquitous Sam Rockwell again. I'd either forgotten or didn't ever know that this is a Charlie Kaufman screenplay. It's his type of tale, but with George Clooney's direction, it's really more Chuck Woolery than Wink Martindale if you know what I mean. The Clooney does a fine job, by the way, not afraid to be a little experimental in approaching Barris's story and creating all kinds of nice moods to show the contrast between his mysterious and dangerous life of intrigue and his zany and hopelessly optimistic life as a television producer. I enjoyed some of the noirish and thrilling scenes in gray European alleyways just as much as the scenes of Barris showing Network suits the unbroadcastable Dating Game clips. Barris isn't exactly a likable character, but both sides of his coin make for some movie fun. And Rockwell can be thrown into that category of actors who are almost too good playing the real-life famous fellow they're playing. George Clooney and Julia Roberts play characters who in no way can be real which is probably the point, and Drew Barrymore once again succeeds in making me wish that somebody other than Drew Barrymore was playing the part. Barris's "life" is perfect for a black comedy, and even though this is fun and satisfying in a kind of dark way, I do like that Clooney plays it all straight. There's no winking in this movie, and I think that makes it a better film. Nostalgically, I enjoyed seeing the Gong Show clips since I remember watching that show as a little squirt.