Darrell Hammond in the Film Cracked Up

Darrell Hammond Doing Stand Up Comedy: from the film Cracked Up

Cracked Up Now Streaming on Netflix

In September 2019, Santa Monica’s second street was lined with classic rocks stars, counterculture icons, environmental warriors, music industry hit-makers, best-selling authors, trauma therapists, yoga teachers, and more. The colorful crowd lined up to get into the Laemmle Theater, to see their friend Michelle Esrick, for the premiere of Cracked Up.

Michelle could have a been a film star of the gilded era. Her voluminous red hair, porcelain skin and starlet-smile is picturesque even by Hollywood standards. Yet, she chose a more impactful poise. Of the role of documentary director. Her debut film: The Wavy Gravy Movie: Saint Misbehavin’ (2009) was an ecstatic exploration of Woodstock MC, cosmic clown and humanitarian, Wavy Gravy. A kaleidoscope of art, music and joy – the film brought a smile to all who viewed it, even The New York Times critics.

The film that premiered in Santa Monica last September, was the portrait of another kind of clown; comedian Darrel Hammond. Hammond has held several records on Saturday Night Live, including longest running cast member, and most played character. His impersonation of President Clinton ran more then 87 times over 14 seasons. It’s the kind of TV gold that inspired kids across America, to move to major cities to study and perform with groups like Uptight Citizens Brigade or The Groundlings.

However, in Cracked Up we see another side of Hammond, the one who was a victim of childhood trauma, whose brain adapted to his circumstances by creating a life outside the material-realm reality. We learn the term “mental injury” and hear from experts such The Body Keeps the Score author, Dr Bessel van der Kolk. We are offered an intimate invitation to a fragile first-person account that could only be told by someone as brave as Hammond and by someone as safe as Esrick.

Cracked Up Film Poster

During the theatrical and educational releases of Cracked Up, countless viewers contacted the filmmakers stating how much the movie helped them get in touch with their own trauma, and ultimately gave them permission to heal. Esrick remarks, “Two people have written to me that they decided not to commit suicide after seeing it. Mostly people tell me that the film makes them realize that they were not born broken.”

The film Cracked Up, its website, and accompanying materials offers resources for clinicians and survivors alike. Screenings, webinars, and more have begun a long-overdue global conversation on an experience far too many share.

Esrick states, “Trauma is largely diagnosed in our society. Darrell was misdiagnosed 40 times over 30 years. We have a system that is treating the symptoms. If we don’t process our trauma with a qualified trauma expert, we will stay sick and get sicker. We are treating the smoke and not the fire.”

Cracked Up filmmaker Michelle Esrick

Cracked Up filmmaker Michelle Esrick

Cracked Up is now available for streaming on Netflix increasing its viewership to the public, and eliciting an overwhelming response. Esrick reflects, “Healing ourselves is healing the world. We are not separate from one another. If the coronavirus is teaching us anything it is teaching us that we affect each other. We are all in this together.”

Cracked Up features the original song “Hide the Hurt” by Diane Warren, sung by Macy Grey.  Watch the film on Netflix now.  For more information about the film as well as educational screening licenses and other resources, visit: Crackedupmovie.com. Michelle Esrick can be found at: http://rippleeffectfilms.rmainweb.com