the film is based of the book of the same title, which claims to be the unauthorised autobiography of chuck barris, the man who polluted television with game shows too many to mention. now, just so it's known, i fucking hate game shows. they drive me insane. why would these people get up, and in some cases, humiliate themselves for a fucking washing machine? what's the point of dating games? why are people so stupid, i ask, and why is it that people have trouble guessing the titles in wheel of fortune?
the answer to all but the last of these questions is in the film: first, people are stupid and greedy, and completely willing to sellout their loved ones for a fridge, and secondly, the point of the dating game was so that chuck barris would have a reason to go overseas, undercover as a chaperone, and kill people.
it's a dark, brilliant film, and i applaud george clooney for making it.
this film isn't perfect. there were things that the audience should have known at the start, and which would have made the film less heavier at the end. the pacing is occasionally out, and, close your eyes for a minute or two in the beginning, and you could possibly be lost. but those problems, when placed against the central idea that chuck barris would run the dating game, and then, in his spare time, work for the CIA as an assassin, is brilliant. it's every dark joke i ever told, and played straight, without a winking eye to destroy the notion that hey, just maybe, this might be true. (and who knows? personally, i don't care. i believe it. chuck barris, trained killer, gong show host. it's brilliant.)
the film itself is stylish, at times brooding, at times light, and with touches of sodenberg's visual eye running in it. (he was the producer.) as director, clooney gives the audience some fantastic images, such as byrd by the pool, berlin, and more, while kaufman's script bubbles along with dark glee. sam rockwell, an actor i've never thought much of, shines. the film hangs around his portrayal of the neurotic, sex crazed, egomaniacal barris, and he rises to the challenge. drew barrymore, never in my must go watch books, is wonderfully cast as the hippy girlfriend, and clooney himself is excellent as jim byrd, the CIA agent. i was shocked, i might add, to find rutger hauer in it and not chewing on the scenery.
this film isn't for everyone. if the idea of chuck barris using the dating game to go to, say, berlin, to assassinate a man, and guiding around to contestant winning lovers doesn't make you chuckle, then it's probably not for you. i know this because a couple of people walked out of it. but, if it makes you smile, if you ever watched the dating game, and thought, russia? why the fuck are they being sent to russia? and then daydreamed about assassinations and dark plots, then, i tell you, this is the film for you. it's probably one of the best films i've seen all year, up there with battle royale.