Sometimes when you’re really looking forward to seeing a movie you’re inevitably disappointed by it, usually because you build it up in your head and go in with expectations so high that they’re unrealistic. But every so often you see something that exceeds even pretty lofty expectations. Such was my experience watching Bobcat Goldthwait’s documentary on political satirist and activist Barry Crimmins, “Call Me Lucky.”
I’ve only really known about Barry Crimmins since his interview with Marc Maron on WTF, so not quite two years. So imagine my surprise when I’m listening to the podcast driving to work one morning and Barry tells Marc he grew up in my own hometown of Skaneateles, NY. He talked about a place called Under the Stone, a bar/restaurant that isn’t there any more, but I remembered going to as a kid. He talks about the Catholic Church which is just a few blocks from my house. It was a strange coincidence, but once that novelty wore off I found myself deeply interested in Barry’s talking about his work as a comedian, a leader in the Boston comedy scene of the eighties and later as a political activist. It was a really interesting interview that you should listen to if you get a chance.
Now, before I go any further, let me say, if you aren’t familiar with Barry’s story, there are spoilers ahead and you may get more out of watching the movie without reading what’s coming next.
Remember… spoilers ahead. Don’t say I didn’t warn you….
OK, you still here? Like I was saying, Barry’s story is interesting enough as it is with his comedy, his activism and his reputation as a sort of larger than life character. But about halfway through the story the film takes a turn from what’s basically a really well done episode of “Biography” and dives into Barry’s history as a victim of childhood sexual abuse, how that experience has shaped him and how outing predators and helping other abuse victims has become the cause of his life (in addition to the destruction of the Catholic Church and the overthrow of the US government….).
The way the film turns and tells Barry’s story is at times gut wrenching and you may find yourself saying “what the hell is going on here!?” as it shifts tone and direction. As a director Bobcat doesn’t hold back, and his compassionate, yet firm, interview with Barry’s sister who saved Barry from his abuser and bringing Barry back to the place where he was raped as a child are sort of the two emotional pillars of the film. I’ll admit, I was in tears watching it, and I don’t tend to be much of a crier during movies.
Ultimately when you see a person who has faced the kind of abuse that he has and then do the kinds of things he has done while shouldering that burden you’ll hopefully come away with a deep appreciation of the man’s resiliency and character. But more importantly I hope you’ll come away with a changed attitude about difficult topics like sexual abuse, child abuse and how we have a collective responsibility to not only prevent this type of behavior, but to talk about it and bring it into the open. As the film says- tell anybody, tell everybody. When we bottle things up or sweep them under rugs or even try to “gracefully” change a topic of conversation things don’t change, abusers continue to abuse, and victims are stigmatized and will suffer alone instead of seeking help. It’s an important message and it goes beyond abuse. If we could talk more openly about a lot of things- from things like mental health to gender identity and more, a lot of people would benefit from it.
It’s available now on Amazon Prime and iTunes, etc. etc. but you can also see it in some select theaters. The full schedule is on the film’s website, http://www.callmeluckymovie.com/
If you’ve seen the movie feel free to discuss it in the comments!