Robert Goldthwait, known as “Bobcat” to millions of fans, has had a pretty fascinating career. From his Muppet-voiced shtick on the stand-up circuit, he became known to many for his role as Zed in the Police Academy series of films. From One Crazy Summer and Tapeheads to Scrooged and Radioland Murders, his unique style and frenetic comedy was a welcome added ingredient to many films through the ’80s and ‘90s.
Moving his focus to directing since 2000, first for television with programs like The Man Show and Jimmy Kimmel Live! and then on to blackly comedic features including Sleeping Dogs Lie, World’s Greatest Dad and God Bless America, Goldthwait has demonstrated a keen knack for creating unsettling but humorous and satisfying works.
His latest is a departure, a deeply felt homage to one of his colleagues. Call Me Lucky is about Barry Crimmins, a fixture on the Boston circuit and an outspoken activist whose wry soliloquies about class, race and politics have helped solidify the reputation of this comedian’s comedian. It’s a touching, extremely effective documentary, winning several festival awards and further demonstrating Goldthwait’s craft as a most keenly refined social observer and a refined filmmaker.
As part of our Pick Six series, we asked Goldthwait for nonfiction films that meant something to him, to create a kind of documentary mix tape of titles. Along with each recommendation is a comment about their inclusion.
American Movie (Chris Smith, 1999)
“Filmmaker Mark Borchardt’s drive and imagination are truly inspiring. His relationship with his best friend Mike Schank makes this an alcohol-fueled Don Quixote.”
Brother’s Keeper (Joe Berlinger & Bruce Sinofsky, 1992)
“This movie was made not far from the town I grew up in (Syracuse, NY). It’s a heartbreaking story that ends with the same theme as Anne Frank. Seriously.”
Strong Man (Zachary Levy, 2009)
“Zachary Levy’s film is about dreams, heartbreak and devotion. It’s also about a guy who bends pennies with his fingers.”
The Rock-afire Explosion (Brett Whitcomb, 2008)
“Another film about dreamers, but this one is about things lost and wanting to get them back. It’s set in the world of people obsessed with the animatronic robots from a defunct pizza franchise.”
Murder on a Sunday Morning (Un coupable ideal) (Jean-Xavier de Lestrade, 2001)
“It’s all about justice, race and an awesome small time public defender. Being black in Florida has had tragic results for a long time.”
Giuseppe Makes a Movie (Adam Rifkin, 2014)
“Bukowski meets American movie in a cracked-out trailer park.”
This post was originally published on May 11, 2015.