'Call Me Lucky': Film Review

Courtesy of Sundance International Film Festival
A skillfully woven doc about a vitriolic comic talent

This doc looks back on the life and comedy of Barry Crimmins

Comic Barry Crimmins was a tough act to follow and a hard guy to swallow.  A brilliant political satirist, Crimmins skewered politicians, government and institutions. His abrasive personality also scattered those close and near.

Crimmins’ comedy was fueled by anger:  His two most hated institutions were the U.S. government, particularly the Reagan and Nixon administrations, and the Catholic Church, which he dismissed as being based on “fear and real estate.” The documentary Call Me Lucky will definitely appeal to comic aficionados, but could also very well venture into cable outlets focusing on history or artistry.

Interspersing clips of his daredevil comedy days in Boston to more recent sojourns at his reclusive upstate New York dwelling, Bobcat Goldthwait’s film is both a personality profile and a sociological-political satire of the places and times that Crimmins skewered. Interviews with such comics as Margaret Cho and Marc Maron invigorate and flesh-out the production.  Like great comics such as Ambrose Bierce and Mark Twain and ink-stained scribes such as H.L. Mencken, Crimmins produced work that was bilious, propelled by outrage over what he considered wrong with society and the world.

The 1980s were the “interesting times” that Crimmins raged about in his comedy.  His indignation aroused the wrath of those whom H.L. Mencken deemed the “booboisie." Admittedly, the comedy ultimately often deteriorated into rants as Crimmins’ vitriol subsumed his humor.

The title of the film derives from Crimmins’ wise acknowledgement that he was lucky to survive his satirical salvos, professionally as well as emotionally. Most poignantly, the film clues us in to the terrible childhood trauma that Crimmins suffered, and, indeed, we see that he was very lucky to survive that.

Director: Bobcat Goldthwait

Producers: CharlieFponville, Clinto Trucks, Bobcat Goldthwait

Cinematographer: Bradly Stonesifer

Editor: Jeff Striker

Co-Producers: Barry Crimmins, Bradley Stonesifer

Music: Charlyne Yi

 

No Rating, 105 Minutes

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