A DANGEROUS MIND
movie trailer (apple.com - quicktime)
NOTE: This spoiler was sent in by brentage5000 who says... "Before I get to the spoiler itself, I should tell all of you that this movie has cameos from people who knew the real Chuck Barris sprinkled throughout, including Dick Clark and Gene-Gene the dancing machine, and even features Mr. Barris himself at the very end."
The movie starts in 1981, in New York City. Chuck Barris (Sam Rockwell) is sitting alone naked in his barren apartment watching old TV shows and that station test thing. His girlfriend Penny (Drew Barrymore) comes to the door and starts talking to him through it while he watches her through the peephole. She says that she doesnt want to wait forever for them to get married, and she leaves in tears. Next theres a small black-screen disclaimer saying that this movie is based on the autobiography of Chuck Barris and hundreds of thousands of hours of taped interviews. After that, we cut back to the apartment. We hear Chuck telling us how his whole life is a lie, and how the only thing left for him to do is type it out (note: from here on out, Ill be prefacing any major time skips in new paragraphs with the year [and sometimes also the location] it starts in).
1940: Eleven-year-old Chuck is sitting at home with a girl. He asks the girl if she wants to taste it. She freaks (a little) but he convinces her by saying that it tastes like strawberries. That calms her down a little, and when he promises her a dollar, she dives in. This launches a brief interlude where we see Chuck getting turned down for kisses in a crowded movie theater where everyone else is making out, on a street where no one is around, and in an almost empty movie theater where even an old couple is making out. While this is happening, Chuck narrates to us that he had many good game show ideas, but he needed to get them produced.
Manhattan, 1955: Chuck is on a tour inside NBC studios with one of those extra-perky, super-attentive tour guides. They pass a booth where he momentarily ducks out to grab a job application. He gets back in the group just as the tour guide notices hes gone. The tour moves on, and then we see another tour going through, this time led by Chuck. He goes past the same booth as before, and we zoom in on two girls talking near the back wall. We then zoom out and see Chuck in a chair in the booth listening to the two girls. One of them says something about a management-trainee program. Chuck hears this and goes up to a secretary who gives him an application for it. He asks if a lot of people have applied, and she says about 2,000. The next scene shows Chuck having sex with that same secretary. After that, we see Chuck wandering on the set of some show. He comes home to the secretary, and she tells him shes pregnant. Now we cut back and forth between their conversation and one in a bar that parallels it. In the apartment one, it concludes a week later with her saying she was just late and not pregnant, but they still break up. In the bar one, it ends up devolving into a fight.
After this, we see Chuck walking around on the set of a Dick Clark hosted show. He wanders over to a girl named Debbie and starts chatting her up, mentioning a song he wrote for some group thats performing. Eventually, they hook up and have sex, not that she enjoys it. One night, after another unmemorable round of sex, Debbies roommate Penny (still Drew Barrymore) comes in. She starts talking with Chuck about all the different guys shes had sex with, and she mentions how she loves the song Chuck was telling Debbie about. He tells her that he wrote it, and they hit it off. This sparks a montage of the two of them going out, including one where theyre in a movie theater and are the only ones making out (understandable, since it sounded/looked like they were at a horror movie). One night, Chuck comes back to his apartment (Pennys living there too now, even though her and Chuck arent officially going out) and for some reason, Debbie starts talking about dating. This sets off an idea for Chuck, who comes up with The Dating Game. He tells the suits at ABC where hes now working about it, but it doesnt take. After that, we see Chuck getting thrown out of a bar. Out on the street, a man comes up to Chuck, whos lying on the street. This is Jim Byrd (George Clooney), and he wants to recruit Chuck for the CIA (well, he says a government agency, but in a case like this, its ALWAYS the CIA).
Without really seeming to know what hes getting into, Chuck says Sure.
Next, we see a big gymnasium with two people on the floor the trainer and a recruit and about twenty other people in the stands. The trainer demonstrates how to kill a man by hitting him hard in the Adams Apple, causing asphyxiation. Unfortunately, this demonstration kills the recruit, causing the trainer to ask for another volunteer. Eventually, Chuck passes, and he goes down to Mexico with Byrd. Down there, the two take out someone who was either a Mexican drug lord or a communist (not sure which). The two fly back to New York, and Chuck goes back to his apartment. One day, Penny comes in, saying that she just got back from San Francisco, is staying with Chuck now, and is now a hippie. Chuck asks about a yellow bird painted on his wall. Penny says that some guy named Goldberg called while he was vacationing in Mexico, and his name inspired it. Chuck realizes that this Goldberg is the head of the network at ABC, and he calls Goldberg, who says that they have an opening in their daytime slot for a game show, and they want to use The Dating Game.
Los Angeles, 1961: The next scene shows us a very dirty version of The Dating Game that was never aired (e.g., a girl asks, Contestant number two. If you were a trombone, how would you sound if I blew you? to which the contestant makes moans of ecstasy). The suits tell him to fix it, and he does, bringing in a man from the FCC who threatens everyone with a year in prison and/or a ten thousand dollar fine if the show does not clean up its act. Naturally, the show does clean up, and Chuck along with the network has a hit. At the same time, the suits at ABC tell Chuck that they have a problem, namely that they need to make the show more exciting for a prime-time audience. About this time, Byrd pays Chuck a visit saying that he has a job for Chuck. Byrd also offers Chuck a solution for The Dating Game: instead of having the winning couple go to some nothing restaurant, fly them to some exotic locale which would, coincidentally, also happen to be the spot of Chucks latest mission. Naturally, Chuck would go along as an escort.
1967: Chuck is overseeing The Dating Show from the control booth. The contestants this time are Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, and a fat guy with a scruffy goatee who Chuck thinks has never been on a date in his life (note: in the credits, Matt and Brad are listed as playing Dating Contestant Matt and Dating Contestant Brad). For some reason, the bachelorette chooses the fat guy (dont ask me). The fat guy and the bachelorette win a trip to Helsinki. Unfortunately, the male contestant ends up doing nothing but whining in Chucks ear the whole trip about the girl, Chucks girl, the weather, the city, and anything else. One night, while the contestants are having dinner in some bar, Chuck goes over to a lady sitting alone in a booth with her leg sticking out like she was trying to trip someone. Their dialogue goes something like this (I dont remember exactly what was said, but this is close enough, I think):
Chuck: Is this seat taken?
Lady: Yes, by you.
Chuck (sitting down): You know, Helsinki is lovely in the winter.
Lady: Yes, it is.
Of course, that was not what she was supposed to say, and Chuck realizes that this lady isnt his contact. Chuck looks around and sees ANOTHER boot sticking out of a second booth further down the row. Chuck goes over there, and meets his real contact, Olivia (Julia Roberts). She says that hes not like the other killers and gives him a package. He takes it and heads into an alleyway. He passes the package through a window grate and gets another package back that contains some microfilm. He then shoots the man on the other side. He goes to leave the alley but is cut off by the fat contestant, whos busy looking for Chuck. Chuck almost shoots the guy, but is somehow able to stop himself. Later that night, Chuck is in his hotel room sticking the microfilm up his ass with mayonnaise. He goes into the main room and sees Olivia there. She says that her real name is Patricia, and they start talking, eventually having sex. Before they do though, he says that he needs to go to the bathroom and take care of something. Her response? Leave the microfilm in, baby.
The next morning, Chuck is in a car with Byrd and another agent. The agent asks where the microfilm is, and Chuck replies, Its up my ass. Why dont you go and get it? Byrd and the agent caution him about Patricia, but he waves them off. Later, in California, we see Chuck walking through a darkened office when a sultry female voice asks, Are you the hitman? He says yes, and suddenly the lights come on and we see that his employees are throwing him a party to celebrate the start of his latest sure-fire hit, The Newlywed Game, in which couples compete to win prizes (one such prize is a refrigerator, something you should keep in mind for the end of the film trust me on that). Later, we see Chuck and Penny driving into their new house in California. At first, Chuck is happy, but eventually stress takes over, and he calls Byrd to give him a job, any job. Byrd complies, meeting him in a Chinese restaurants bathroom and giving him an envelope marked West Berlin.
In Berlin, Chuck has very little to actually do. Most of his time is spent sitting in a car with a man named Sid. The two watch the street for signs of someone they are supposed to capture or kill while Sid takes pictures of him doing possibly incriminating actions. After a day or so, they manage to catch the guy while hes skiing down the street. After the guys dead, Chuck gets out for a cigarette and secretly watches someone being loaded into a car. When he turns back, Sids car is gone. He runs after the car, but it has already gone through a big gate and cant be gotten to. Chuck turns and sees a crowd of angry looking people advancing on him. One of them hits Chuck in the face with a gun, knocking him unconscious. The next time we see Chuck, he is in the middle of a KGB camp. He and some other prisoners are being sent out of the camp, but on the way out, Chuck recognizes two of the Russians as the couple he escorted in Helsinki.
Los Angeles, 1976: Chuck is shifting through the talent pool of America looking for people to use on a new show. Unfortunately, the singers are horrible, and after a Chinese woman comes in after a Japanese woman to do the same song that the Japanese woman did, Chuck has himself a sudden satisfying vision of sneaking up behind the Chinese woman and emptying a shotgun into her. After the vision, he convinces his partners that theyll have a talent show full of people with no talent and theyll kill them. Eventually, this idea becomes, The Gong Show, where the contestants would sing or dance until they got gonged out when the judges couldnt take anymore. The show is popular, but Chuck catches a lot of heat for it, most notably at a party where this one rather spectacularly attractive woman basically calls him an unfeeling, selfish, shallow pig. None of that changes the shows popularity though, with such favorites as Gene-Gene the dancing machine and The Unknown Comic appearing on it. One day, while planning that nights show, Chuck is told that he has a call from an old friend from Berlin. Chuck goes to his office, picks up the phone, and is surprised to hear Sid. The two meet, despite Chucks narrated worries that hell be killed, and they have a drink and talk about the spy business.
Los Angeles, 1979: Chuck and Penny are sitting in a restaurant. Chuck is telling Penny about how an old friend of his recently committed suicide. Penny asks who it was, and Chuck, unable to reveal the truth about himself and, by extension, Sid, says that Sid was just a stagehand. A waiter comes up to Chuck and tells Chuck that he has a phone call. Chuck goes to take the call, but when he gets to the phone, someone behind him takes the receiver and slams it down. Its Patricia. She says that they were supposed to meet two hours ago and starts verbally abusing him. Chuck tries to get out of there, but Penny comes up. Chuck introduces the two, and Patricia leaves. Penny says that its okay so long as Chuck doesnt do it again (in other words, she thought Patricia was Chucks other girl).
Some time after this, Chuck is in his office when he gets a phone call from Byrd that is short and to the point. He says, Sid didnt kill himself. Watch your back. After this call, Chuck finds out that The Newlywed Game has been cancelled. Later, Chuck is in his living room having sex with someone, when who should come in but Penny. She tells Chuck that she sold her first painting, and then asks how he could do this in their house. Chuck says its his house, but she argues that its their house because she helped pay for it, lived in it, slept in it, and waited six months for the plumber to fix the sink in it. Eventually it becomes too much for her, and she runs out to her car, climbs in, and breaks down on the steering wheel. Later, Chuck finds her and they make up, with him finally admitting that he does love her, just in his own way.
A few days later, Chuck is coming home and goes to his pool, but he sees Byrd sitting on the diving board waiting for him above the clear water (important detail).
Byrd tells him that the agency wants him to hunt down the mole they believe is killing off agents, but Chuck doesnt want to and asks why Byrd thinks hes a killer. Byrd replies by saying that Chuck was the product of an affair between his mother and a man who was a serial killer who was executed in 1929, and that between conception and birth, Chuck strangled his twin sister to death using the umbilical cord. Chuck pulls his gun out and asks, How do I know youre not the mole? Byrd just says that hes a smart boy, and Chuck sees the blood leaking into the pool water from Byrds body.
At this point, everything begins to spiral for Chuck. He is constantly on edge, and is suspicious of everyone and everything. He even pulls a gun on The Unknown Comic. The last straw for him is when hes hosting The Gong Show and suddenly has a vision of a bunch of confetti floating down on him while hearing a big-band version of the song the Japanese and Chinese women were singing earlier while simultaneously thinking that the guy manning the spotlight is going to kill him. Of course, the public just sees Chuck standing there with his arms wide open and saying, Come on. Come on. Do it. Come on. Do it, already. Come on to the guy manning the spotlight. Ultimately, he heads to New York City, which is where we came in. At this point, his hair and beard are at least six inches long, and he spends all his time in front of the television. One day, he shaves all the excess hair off and goes to visit Patricia in Boston. They have coffee and talk, and briefly consider moving to Boston and starting over there together. They look at the beautiful skyline, and Patricia shows Chuck a picture of him that she got. However, this is all before Chuck starts choking and gasping for air. Patricia says that that was too quick (important) and proceeds to drag him to the bathroom, explaining how she killed all the agents she did. Suddenly, she begins choking herself on the way to the kitchen for a knife. Seems that there was a double (or maybe triple) switcheroo. First, Patricia put some poison in Chucks cup, a white thing on Chucks saucer (presumably an antidote or maybe just a sugar cube)) and had the spout for the cream face inwards. Then, while Patricia was looking out, Chuck put the tablet on Patricias saucer and faced the cream spout outwards. Then, while Chuck was looking at the picture on the wall, Patricia made the whole tray do a 180, again repositioning the cream so it was still facing outward, only then putting the tablet on her own plate. End result: Patricia got poisoned, and Chuck kills the mole. After doing a little wiping down of fingerprints, Chuck grabs a journal from the shelf, opens it to a couple of blank pages, and has Patricia write, NO LOVE across the pages.
The next scene shows Chuck in his apartment, which has been cleaned up considerably. He is wearing an outfit thats kind of reminiscent of the 1920s, and is typing up the last few pages of his autobiography, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind. After he throws the last page down, we see Penny and Chuck in a church, finally getting married. The minister, though, ends up listing some of Chucks more memorable shows before getting on with the ceremony. Afterwards, while Chuck and Penny are making their way to the limo, Chuck begins seeing the faces of all the people he killed or knew who were killed during his career. He grabs Penny and all but carries her into the limo, yelling at the driver to gun it. He tells Penny that he is a secret agent who has killed people, but naturally, she just laughs at his absurd-yet-true confession. He slowly starts laughing too, and they head for the reception.
(note: this next part features the REAL Chuck Barris, though hes only seen, not heard)
Los Angeles, 2002: We hear Chuck narrating the latest events of his life. He has gone back into production with a new idea for a game show. He calls it The Old Game. It consists of three guys with loaded revolvers sitting around talking about their lives and how miserable theyve been all through them. The winner is the one who can keep from blowing his brains out by the time the show is over. As a prize, he gets a refrigerator.
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