If you only stream one thing this week: Call Me Lucky

Netflix’s doc sums up why the recent death of Barry Crimmins was such an immense loss

The “Documentaries” tab can prove a shorter route to unwatchable madness than most. It’s a quick scroll down from Jim And Andy or Some Kind Of Monster to conspiracy theories about Nazis, aliens or Nazi aliens. Thankfully, Netflix’s vast production line of documentaries has produced a lot more of the former than the latter. Bobcat Goldthwait’s Call Me Lucky is a case in point. Maybe you’ve seen the eye-catching artwork as you breezed past it – ever deeper into a Netflix hole – but apart from maybe thinking “Is that Jason Robards?” or “Is that Elliott Gould?”, you never gave it a shot. This heart-rendering documentary tells the story of Barry Crimmins, a woefully under-appreciated comic and a valiant hero in the fight against child sexual abuse. Sadly, there’s never been a better reason to finally give Call Me Lucky a chance, as Crimmins died on 28 th February.

Barry Crimmins in Boston, in 1979.

The outpouring of grief from fellow comics served as a moving final testament to just how adored he was. Call Me Lucky begins with a parade of talking heads (including Patton Oswalt, Marc Maron and Steven Wright) trying to sum up Crimmins via combinations of various luminaries, real and fictional: Will Rogers and Mark Twain, Ambrose Bierce and Charles Manson, Audie Murphy and Abbie Hoffman, Noam Chomsky and Bluto. Somewhere in there lies the truth of the man. Over the course of 100 minutes, Call Me Lucky reveals Crimmins as a very funny and deeply passionate man raging at the world around him and the apathy he senses towards its many injustices.

Director Bobcat Goldthwait and Barry Crimmins.

Goldthwait’s film begins with Crimmins’ comedy career, casting him as a forebearer to the likes of Bill Hicks, a comedian with a social conscience and a considerable amount of anger. It’s only as the film unfolds that we begin to glimpse the pain and suffering underneath. Crimmins was sexually abused as a young boy, an event described in such horrific detail that it becomes all too apparent why we use the word “survivor” in such cases.

Patton Oswalt during the interview in Call Me Lucky.

With the birth of the internet, he discovered that AOL chatrooms were being used by groups of paedophiles to groom children and share child pornography. The company refused to act, setting about a crusade (a word that would probably make the deeply unreligious Crimmins furious) that led to Crimmins tearing apart an AOL attorney in front of Congress. If can seem sometimes like the bad guys are everywhere. Call Me Lucky is an inspiring look at the difference that just one good man can make.

  • Watch here the trailer of Call Me Lucky:

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