The Gong Show may not have been at the top of the cultured entertainment list, but the story that goes with it is certainly worth discussion. It was worth a novel, it was worth a movie and it was well worth a DVD.
Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, a movie about the life of Chuck Barris, the host of the Gong Show and the man responsible for TV shows such as The Newlywed Game, The Dating Game and The Game Game, is based on Barris’ “unauthorized autobiography.”
The film, starring Sam Rockwell as Chuck, tells the story of an aspiring TV producer who becomes an independent contractor for a government agency.
According to the movie, Chuck used his TV career as a cover to travel to foreign countries to perform his government-assigned duties. At the same time, he came up with TV shows, some of which stayed on the air until recently.
Confessions is the directorial debut of George Clooney with a brilliant screenplay by Charlie Kauffman. It also stars such Hollywood personas as Julia Roberts, Drew Barrymore and Clooney in self-cast parts. All the performances are brilliant — the actors give depth to each character and help the audience understand where each character is coming from.
The DVD is no worse than the movie itself. It contains a plethora of special features, each as interesting as the next. Topping the list is the “Behind the Scenes” documentary featuring interviews with Clooney, Rockwell, Barrymore and the real Barris. It also gives a good insight into to the way that the movie was filmed and the way that the effects and theatricality of the film was achieved.
Also excellent is “The Real Chuck Barris Documentary,” a feature which includes interviews of Barris and several of his co-workers. Although it doesn’t clearly state whether Barris was actually the man he portrays himself to be, it creates even more doubt as to whom he really was.
Other features include Sam Rockwell’s screen test, which shows off his versatility and great acting skills, “Gong Show” acts filmed just for the film, a gallery of stills, some teases for other movies and about 10 minutes of deleted scenes — one featuring Fred Savage.
There is also a feature commentary with Clooney and cinematographer Newton Thomas Sigel. Unfortunately, either the feature is bizarre enough to only last through a couple minutes of the movie, or the filmmakers had nothing to say about their work. Either way, the commentary does not start for a good half of the movie–after which even the biggest fan of the movie may get bored of skipping through parts just to hear a few minutes of superfluous talk over the film.
Except for the missing commentary, the film and the features are definitely worth whatever commercial establishments may be charging for the DVD. The story is original, and the features are interesting. This is a good addition, especially since Miramax is not well known for producing special editions that are just to milk movie watchers for more money.