Turns out I’m a big Sam Rockwell fan. Who knew? First movie I ever saw him in but had no idea? 1990’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. How many times has he been a character named Sam? A lot. How many times did I see his ass in this movie? Way, way too many times.
Obviously (hopefully), Chuck Barris was never in the CIA.
Best part of the movie is when Brad Pitt and Matt Damon get passed over in the Dating Game for the weirdo.
The movie was fairly awful at times but the genius of it is slowly revealed as we learn about strikingly pivotal moments in his life and how they translate downstream. What is interesting is how the movie is played out to give us a sympathetic slant to a major skeeze-ball. He was successful but jeered. Despised while achieving commercial success. Desperate for action but a dickhole to Penny. He was either ahead of his time (ours) or he planted the seeds that made our media possible.
The Chuck Barris story in and of itself is interesting enough, the CIA angle is all commentary. Commentary on him, on society, on what was happening in in those generations, on what the CIA was through a Hollywood filter, etc. It’s written into the story and the movie how he reached that desperately low point in the hotel and decided to write. What better than his life of ridicule than to invent the fantasy that he was actually the opposite of the goofball loser producer generating shitty tv? A professionally trained CIA assassin who was so damn good at it that it became a stress-releasing hobby instead of a side job? How about that he was an unsung patriotic hero?
The end of the movie is the beginning. He talks about how you’re born with unlimited potential but then as you get older you hit that terrible nadir and realize that you were nothing close to amazing. He never had that life that has the moments and memories that make it possible to want to continue living despite all the muck and shit that life throws at you along the way. He wouldn’t have won a refrigerator in Kaufman’s proposed last Barris game show. Would you?