Friday, August 7, 2015

Movie with Abe: Call Me Lucky

Call Me Lucky
Directed by Bobcat Goldthwait
Released August 7, 2015

Comedians make for great film subjects because they inherently have led interesting lives that help make up the meat of their material. It’s not always a joke, of course, particularly when a comedian’s life is cut short by an untimely death or suicide, and though Barry Crimmins is still alive, he definitely has a very serious story that shaped him into the comedian he was back into the 1990s. He still has plenty to offer, and this thorough and analytical documentary is an electrically engaging portrait of his life.

Barry Crimmins is best described as an angry comedian. Fellow stand-up performers describe his acts as often yelling at people because of their views and expressing his frustrations with government, religion, and other institutions through this forum by venting and brutally taking down those with whom he doesn’t agree. Patton Oswalt, Lenny Clarke, and others describe the impact he has had on comedy, and the way in which he has served as a model for them of how to push the limits and shed light on important issues.

Crimmins goes far beyond poking fun at a given subject or joking about the destruction of the Catholic Church as one of his goals. This documentary abruptly shifts about halfway through its runtime as he reveals that he was sexually abused by a babysitter’s friend at a very young age, and from there it takes on an entirely new form. The story of how Crimmins went into AOL chatrooms in the 1990s when the Internet was still new and got users to send him samples of child pornography to trade and sell is inherently fascinating, especially as it catapults Crimmins into a major federal investigation with senators involved and AOL in his crosshairs as a willing provider of child pornography, a sincere step taken by a comedian who clearly isn’t content to leave his jokes as just that.

This film says a lot about how comedy and reality can exist in the same world, and Crimmins is certainly a poignant example of a comedian already on the edge who went all the way to make sure that his voice was heard and that he wasn’t just making people laugh. He is a magnetic central figure and fantastic film subject, and even though he’s not doing much at the moment, it’s clear that he is an extremely notable and memorable personality who, thanks in no small part to this film, will surely not be soon forgotten.


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