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Call Me Lucky - Cinemaholic Movie Reviews
one person's obsessive addiction to film
Call Me Lucky
Directing: A-
Writing: A-
Cinematography: B
Editing: B+

Call Me Lucky smartly takes its time to getting to the dark heart of the matter, even offering some laughs along the way, but here, let's just say I'll offer a trigger warning: This is a movie about a man who was repeatedly raped by a Catholic priest as a child. You might wonder what reason you would have to watch such a movie, and Barry Crimmins, the man in question, has a pretty direct answer: If he can survive experiencing it, you can survive hearing about it.

Directed by longtime and close friend Bobcat Goldthwait, Call Me Lucky takes an impressively delicate approach to this subject matter. We are first introduced to Barry Crimmins the person, and then Barry Crimmins the comedian, a man with standup content just alienating enough to keep him from becoming widely famous. But he is widely loved among fellow comics, a bunch of whom offer themselves as talking heads here: Patton Oswalt, Marc Maron, Margaret Cho, David Cross, Kevin Meany, and plenty more. They paint a picture of a deeply compassionate man.

A largely broken man too, as one might expect. But he takes that brokenness and makes it funny. For this movie, he declares that his two great goals in life are to overthrow the American government and close the Catholic Church. He is deeply passionate in his disgust for the hypocrisy in both institutions, but particularly that of the Catholic Church -- we are treated to a nice bit of a tirade against them as he stands in front of a church building.

Crimmins has long been insisting on talking about the horrors he endured as a child, but Goldthwait takes it further. He interviews many close friends, including non-comedians and friends from his childhood neighborhood. He interviews his sister, who walked in on Crimmins being abused as a child and literally bit the priest when he tried to stop her from reascending the stairs to the basement. He takes Crimmins to revisit the basement where most of the abuse happened, truly horrible stuff where he would pass out from asphyxiation due to his face being pressed into couch cushions. It's in this basement where Crimmins makes the point about how people can handle hearing about it. But then, understandably, he declares he never wants to visit that basement again.

Crimmins is revealed to be an obviously talented, if perhaps a little unfocused, comedian. His friends talk about how he's the rare person who gets more articulate the angrier he gets, and he gets very angry, particularly at injustice. A key part of his story is that he was instrumental in taking AOL to task in the mid-nineties for allowing chat rooms to exist in which child pornography was being shared between pedophiles. He subjected himself to truly horrifying sights in the endeavor to get these people charged with crimes, to the point that he testified before Congress. Listening to AOL's council offer truly weak defenses is nearly as nauseating as the crimes themselves.

This is a guy who can't fit neatly into any mainstream system, not when it was such systems that victimized him in the first place. He pointedly notes that he was once a victim but is not anymore. He's a truly fascinating individual, a large, gruff looking guy who quickly defies stereotypes with his humanitarian nature. This is a guy who doesn't back down, which occasionally bogs down his standup sets. As one friend states, at one point he stopped caring if he was funny anymore. A lot of the time, he still is. On camera, he's an unself-conscious presence that commands attention. You feel like you understand how his friends feel privileged to know him.

At least as portrayed in Call Me Lucky, Barry Crimmins is about as authentic as it gets. He knows he's an imperfect man and doesn't let that get in the way of his goals. At the close of the film, a tile cards tells us, "If you or someone you know is a victim of abuse, tell someone. Tell everyone." This speaks to the heart of what both this film and Crimmins himself stand for. Take the leap and watch this movie. You can handle it.

Barry Crimmins tells of his childhood horrors and then incredibly says 'Call Me Lucky'.

Overall: B+
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