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Confessions of a Dangerous Mind
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this movie is about a seemingly "ordinary guy" becoming a government-hired murderer. The main character painstakingly lies to loved ones in order to cover up his participation in brutal crimes. There are many instances of strong language, and crimes are depicted graphically. Furthermore, parents should know that the film features many popular actors (George Clooney, Julia Roberts, and Drew Barrymore), thus increasing the chance that children are going to know about the film and want to see it.
What's the story?
Television producer Chuck Barris became notorious for creating critically-maligned, audience-adored, low-brow classics like The Gong Show, The Dating Game, and The Newlywed Game. CONFESSIONS OF A DANGEROUS MIND depicts the double-life Barris claimed to have lived in his controversial autobiography, that of a television game show producer by day and a C.I.A. hitman by night. The movie takes place during Barris's television game show heyday, the 1960s and 1970s, coinciding with the Cold War. It is directed by George Clooney, written by Charlie Kauffman, and starring character actor Sam Rockwell.
Is it any good?
Confessions lives up to its first class pedigree. Scenes cut between garishly colorful game show sets, the icy streets of cities behind the Iron Curtain that are interspersed with shots of Barris's squalid Philadelphia beginnings and, finally, his lavish Hollywood success. It's a jarring juxtaposition, made all the more unsettling by the fact that Barris champions feel-good, tacky television fare while covertly going on missions to kill Russian spies in dark alleys. The film delves heavily into adult themes related to sex and relationships, and his participation in contract killings is depicted graphically and hauntingly --never without some attention to the cost to the character's psyche and his relationships to others. Parents will be intrigued but should think twice about watching with kids.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the consequences of secrecy and betrayal. How does Chuck Barris's career as a contract murderer influence his "regular" job as a television producer? What are the effects of this on his relationships with loved ones? How do Chuck's relationships with other women influence his relationship with Penny? Families can also discuss the notion of "quality entertainment" in relation to this movie. Why do people react so strongly (positively and negatively) to the television shows that Chuck produces? Why might people be concerned about the effects of television content on families and children?
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