In a truly inspired performance, Sam Rockwell plays Chuck Barris, the eccentric creator and host of _The Gong Show_, who stumbles into a career as a contract assassin for the CIA just as he finds success as a TV game show producer. Finding he enjoys both jobs, he assumes a bizarre double life, juggling risky governmental assignments with more innocuous responsibilities back home. First-time director George Clooney (who co-stars as a shadowy G-man) demonstrates extraordinary artistic vision with this hysterically droll adaptation of Barris’ outlandish “autobiography,” creating a distinct, vivid color palette for each of the film’s various settings. Thankfully, he doesn’t overplay the humor, letting the increasing absurdity of the scenario speak for itself. Whether Barris’ account of his life is true or the product of an overzealous imagination remains unclear, but either way, it makes for an engaging story.
Kinsey Scale: 2 (Rockwell’s naked backside gets so much screen time, it deserves its own billing. Screenwriter Charlie Kaufman also wrote Being John Malkovich, which had a distinct lesbian vibe. Julia Roberts, appearing here as a gleefully sadistic spy, was Rupert Everett’s pal in gay fave My Best Friend’s Wedding.)
(Appeared in Q Syndicate)