Movie Review: God Bless America
Rating: R (strong violence and language, including some sexual sequences)
Length: 100 minutes
Release Date: May 11, 2012
Directed by: Bobcat Goldthwait
Stars: 4 out of 5
The third feature film directed by former stand-up comedian Bobcat Goldthwait, "God Bless America," is a dark comedy that revolves around a guy named Frank, who has recently lost his job and possibly his sanity. Frank (played by Joel Murray) is recently divorced, has an eight-year-old daughter who doesn't want him in her life because "he's too boring" and was diagnosed with a life-threatening brain tumor. Just as he's about to put the gun to his head and kill himself, he notices a reality TV show on his television. The show features a spoiled teenage girl who throws a royal fit on her 16th birthday when her parents buy her a different expensive car than the one she wanted. That's when Frank officially snaps and decides to take matters into his own hands. Since he no longer has anything to lose, Frank decides that cleaning up America's horrible society will be his last "good deed."
Frank suddenly feels like modern American culture couldn't possibly get any worse. He hates people who constantly send text messages, loathes reality television stars without any talent and can't stand to listen to anymore of the arrogance spewed by one-sided political talk show hosts.
Instead of ranting and raving about the type of people he's lost patience for, Frank decides to take it upon himself to rid the country of its irritating, untalented and whiny celebrities. He thinks that the country is filled with people who deserve to die more than he does and feels that it's his job to help them along.
He decides his first target is none other than the spoiled teenager from the reality TV show who got the wrong car on her birthday. Frank follows Chloe (played by Maddie Hasson) to her school and shoots her before she can even get out of her car. As he starts to leave, one of Chloe's classmates, Roxy, sees him and takes it upon herself to follow Frank back to the hotel where he's staying. It turns out, Roxy (played by Tara Lynne Barr) hates Chloe and despises all of the same type of people that Frank does. She loves Frank's passion for his plan and decides to join him on his mission to "fix" what's wrong with society.
The unlikely pair team up. After a quick stop at the local thrift store to purchase a beret for Roxy and a fedora for Frank, the two set out on a Bonnie and Clyde-like killing spree to rid the country of its stupidity and narrow-minded people. Anyone who they think contributes to the downward spiral of modern culture is a target; people who talk on their cellphones during a movie, people who take up more than one parking space with their car and those who hide behind the banner of religion are all targets.
Eventually, the two determine that what they really want to destroy is the television show, American Superstaz-Goldthwait's version of American Idol-for taking a mentally handicapped man and exploiting him for the general public's amusement. Frank and Roxy think it's their destiny to defend this man and set off determined to bring the television show down.
While "God Bless America" tears apart what some people call the worst part of American culture, the film really focuses on the utter rudeness that people are capable of inflicting on other people. It takes common occurrences that annoy a lot of people-not enough for them to kill over cellphone usage-and creates a humorous twist on revenge. As Frank and Roxy discuss their plans throughout the movie, their conversations are where they begin to justify their actions and sometimes touch on real emotions-like Roxy's fear that her parents just don't understand her or that she's not pretty enough.
Murray, a veteran actor who has had smaller parts in other films like "The Artist," seems completely comfortable with his first starring role. He plays the perfect cranky, middle-aged man, a character not too unlike the late George Carlin. Even though the film centers entirely around Frank, Roxy and their path to become vigilantes who cure the pop culture scene of modern-day America, their characters still seem undefined at the end of the movie-not due to poor acting but more as a consequence of the characters being on a mission that's bigger than themselves. Fortunately, both Murray and Barr play their outrageous characters really well, and the rather bizarre pair complement each other on screen. Thanks to Goldthwait-who also wrote the film-the razor-sharp dialogue takes hilarious stabs at television shows like "Glee" and movies like "Juno." Goldthwait definitely pushes it to the limits in this movie, making some of the goriest screens the most funny.