Bobcat Goldthwait’s latest, a documentary about outspoken comic Barry Crimmins, is such a tender and brave piece of work, it allows itself to become more than simply a sketch of a cult figure. Goldthwait looks at Crimmins early comic career, has a young Crimmins glare at us from the turbo-contrasted filament of some vintage home-movies, but something is amiss. Dancing around some grave part of Crimmins basic make-up, Goldthwait explores Crimmins’ tempestuous behaviour, his impassioned rants about power-structures and the state of America, rants that cost him a career in comedy and the patience of most his friends. But people still love the man and that’s because he speaks the truth no matter what the circumstance.
It’s been years since Barry Crimmins came forward about his childhood abuse at the hands of a brutal babysitter, the news doesn’t come any softer. But it has to be heard. Goldthwait lets Crimmins tell his own story on his own terms, leading us by the nose into his scarred but triumphant existence. I could call him brave until the cows come home but it doesn’t mean anything unless you’re willing to listen to what he has to say. Crimmins is an enemy of ignorance, and that’s primarily what he’s been fighting since day one. Goldthwait has experienced Crimmins honesty and generosity first hand, and thus takes the time to help us mull over the estranged comics’ anger, true enough, it makes sense in the context of his life.
Call Me Lucky isn’t just Goldthwait and Crimmins show though, those cultivated in Crimmins’ class-A comic shows appear to toot the horn. The varied collection of performers and family members keeps the document from ever becoming a gushing tribute, its rich miasma of voices testament to Crimmins varied appeal. But their involvement slowly becomes integral to understanding, on a whole other level, the effects one person can have. Crimmins voice is so direct and so consistent, that he has had an incredible effect on the majority around him, Call Me Lucky is testament to this if nothing else.
Goldthwait’s latest is a perfect and intimate look at a curmudgeon, slowly unfurling a life in the most empowering and frank way. Crimmins is a contemporary icon long overdue for widespread acknowledgment yet Goldthwait’s film might be the most endearing praise yet.
Dir: Bobcat Goldthwait
Stars: Barry Crimmins, David Cross, Mike Donovan,