Sydney Underground Film Festival Review: Call Me Lucky (USA, 2015)

Call Me Lucky is a fascinating and compelling portrait of one of the most memorable and significant voices in comedy that you’ve never heard of. However, once you hear Barry Crimmins declaration – “I’d like to overthrow the government of the United States, and I’d like to close the Catholic Church” – it’s hard to not want to know more about him.

In the 1980s, Barry Crimmins was an almost-mythic figure behind much of Boston’s comedy scene – not to mention a precursor to many of popular political satirists today like Jon Stewart. Directed by Bobcat Goldthwait, Call Me Lucky tries to navigate and understand the fiery anger that drives Crimmins’ approach to comedy and understand where that fury comes from.

The film opens by interviewing the countless comedians Crimmins inspired – constructing an image of him through stories told by those he empowered – before eventually looping around the tragedy that made him the person he is. There’s nobody better at explaining just exactly what made Crimmins so significant than other comedians – and there are a lot of famous faces here including Marc Maron, David Cross, Patton Oswalt, Margaret Cho and more. They all praise Barry’s ability to channel anger and his brilliant ability to smuggle critiques of consumerism and capitalism into his material. One even describes him “a combination of Noam Chomsky and Bluto”.

From there, the film effortlessly pivots to Barry’s perspective. His numerous anecdotes do a great job of breaking down why he sees the world the way he does – and what moves him to try and change it. The cinematography is often leveraged to reflect Crimmins state of mind and Goldthwait’s ability to know when to just let Barry’s own monologues run is uncanny.

Call Me Lucky leaps up and down the timeline of Crimmins’ life and expects you to keep up. This, at times, can prove disconcerting, but it does help elevate the impact of Barry’s secret when all is finally revealed – as well as the thrill of watching him hit the personal highs of his life.

At its strongest moments, Call Me Lucky is as exceptionally honest as Crimmins himself. Like Crimmins, it understands the importance of speaking up about the darkness in the world. It doesn’t shy away from the volatility of its subject, understanding that while Crimmins’ tragedy remains deeply-personal but his passion for justice can be so universally inspiring.

Review Score: FOUR STARS (OUT OF FIVE)

Call My Lucky will screen on September 19th as part of the Sydney Underground Film Festival. For tickets and more details head here: http://suff.com.au/schedule/call-me-lucky/