The Gong Show Movie (1980)

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 5 out of 10

4-Word Review: Jaye P. Morgan topless.

A very fractured, offbeat look at game show host Chuck Barris and his trials and tribulations as producer and host of the hit 70’s game show ‘The Gong Show’. In between there are some very short snippets of acts that never made it past the network censor. If you are unfamiliar with the show it featured three B-celebrities, usually Jamie Farr, Artie Johnson, and Jaye P. Morgan, who would watch talent acts performed by amateurs. The acts were usually done in the comic and absurd vein and could include anything from singing, dancing, or stand-up comedy. If they were really bad the celebrities would get out of their seats and bang a big gong that was behind them, which would have the performer thrown off. If the participant avoided being gonged they would then have the potential of winning a monetary prize at the end.

If you were not a fan of the show then you probably won’t be a fan of this movie either. If you were a fan you still might not like it because Barris acts consistently embarrassed by his creation and seems to want to disown it.

The film lacks cohesion. It mixes absurdity with surrealism and even trashy segments thrown in for good measure. The quirky bits are forced and the ‘hilarious’ dialogue is just plain stupid. There is also too many scenes involving a stuffy, uptight network boss who is so over- the-top clichéd that he becomes annoying.

Barris never seemed completely cut out for a game show host and even less as a leading man. He has no charisma and  spends the whole time moping around. He comes off as very burdened making you wonder if his stories about being a part-time CIA hit man were true. Either way he is not an engaging centerpiece for a movie. It would have been better had it broadened out and shown more of “The Gong Show” cast especially Jaye P. Morgan who is as raunchy as ever in the few scenes that she is in including her topless part!

The show always had a unique and perverse brilliance, which comes out every time it features one of the acts from the show making me feel that using this simply as a highlight reel of all of the best and most outrageous acts would have been a better idea. The ones that they show aren’t bad, but they are cut pretty short. A few of the ones that I liked featured two teenaged girls performing fellatio with their popsicles. Another one has three men standing at a urinal and making music with their zippers until one of their zippers gets caught! There is also two obese Siamese twins singing the Captain and Tennille hit ‘Love Will Keep Us Together’.

My Rating: 5 out of 10

Released: May 23, 1980

Runtime: 1Hour 29Minutes

Rated R (Language, Brief Nudity, Raunchy Humor)

Director: Chuck Barris

Studio: Universal

Available: None

2 responses to “The Gong Show Movie (1980)

  1. My morbid curiosity has always wanted to see “The Gong Show Movie.” I’m hoping that one of the DVD on demand services will release it soon.

    • Yes, I am surprised that it hasn’t been released either especially after the release of ‘Confessions of a Dangerous Mind’ I thought it would create enough curiousity and demand for it. It is certainly not a real great movie, but it is not the the ‘bomb’ that Leonard Maltin gives it either.

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