After he bombed in 1997’s Batman & Robin, George Clooney cried mea culpa. He mocked himself and his rubber nipples in hopes of beating the public to the punchline. It worked, and helped keep his career humming. But when it comes to Good Night, and Good Luck, his accomplished, heartfelt salute to TV newsman Edward R. Murrow (whom David Strathairn imbues with both nervy gravitas and scared-sick agita), Clooney has nothing to apologize for. As director, co-writer, and supporting player, he hits his intended marks, even if Oscar night left the movie a high-profile bridesmaid.
So why does Clooney spend so much of the DVD’s commentary track, shared with producer and co-writer Grant Heslov, tossing off self-deprecating wisecracks and metaphorically hanging his head? Simple: The commentary was recorded before awards season kicked into high gear, so Clooney didn’t know yet if he’d hit a single, a double, a homer — or struck out. He talks about Good Luck having flashy bows at the Venice and New York film festivals (circa September 2005), but beyond that, he confesses, ”I don’t know what to expect with the film.” Into that vacuum he throws boomerangs that circle back to bean him. He bemoans his pudginess (left over from making Syriana), mocks his status as ”the former sexiest man alive,” and maintains that he cribbed so heavily from Mike Nichols, Sidney Lumet, and documentarian D.A. Pennebaker that he sent them ”apology letters.”
Relax, ex-Batman. This time, you threw your bat-belt grappling hook at a high ledge and it held. Maybe someday, on a download Good Luck edition, you can apologize for all the apologizing.