Sunday, June 24, 2012

God Bless America: Movie Review

Hilarious cynicism so accurate and extreme that no target is left alive.
Frank (Joel Murray) hates his neighbours. He thinks they are rude, inconsiderate, selfish buffoons who lack any comprehension of how their actions may affect other people. Frank wants to kill them, especially the crying baby. Frank hates his co-workers. He thinks they are celebrity-obsessed morons who no longer have any real thoughts of their own and just regurgitate everything they hear on the TV and radio. He would want to kill them too except he just got fired. 2011

Directed by: Bobcat Goldthwait

Screenplay by: Bobcat Goldthwait

Starring: Joel Murray, Tara Lynne Barr

As he sees it, Frank has two options: kill himself or kill everybody else. Suicide probably wouldn’t be as much fun. “God Bless America” is a scathing commentary, or rant, about everything that is wrong with society. It is so true that it is absolutely hilarious. Writer and director Bobcat Goldthwait has chosen the perfect words to represent our daily thoughts as one long diatribe against all humanity. It’s also extreme.

Suffering from insomnia, Frank flips through the TV channels watching rude people mock unfortunate singers on “American Superstars”, watching uneducated talking heads spew their political vitriol all in the name of free speech, watching wanna-be comics insult celebrities on “TMI”, and finally, watching prima donna teenagers throw hissy fits when their parents buy them the wrong car for their 16th birthday. This last one coincided with his daughter calling him just to tell him that she hates her mother and she still hates him too.

Joel Murray and Tara Lynne Barr in GOD BLESS AMERICA,
a Magnet Release. Photo courtesy of Magnet Releasing.
Let’s just say at this point that Frank has been given an impending way out, so he might as well teach America a lesson since no one else seems capable of doing it. He grabs his gun, steals a car and hits the road. After his first deserving target, he teams up with 16 year-old Roxy (Tara Lynne Barr) also desperate to teach society a lesson and kill everybody who deserves to die.

There are a lot of people that they want to kill including, but nowhere near limited to: hippies, punk rockers, people who high-five, tea party members, Diablo Cody, and people who aren’t nice. It is guaranteed that you have fantasized about killing many of these groups of people, it is also a guarantee that you belong to at least one category.

The irony starts becoming apparent when teenager Roxy complains that her parents don’t understand her, that she’s smarter than everybody else around her, and she just has to sit there and take it since nobody knows what she’s going through. A later scene has Frank in a sea of people while a song plays with the lyrics, “I’m not like everybody else. I don’t want to live my life like everybody else.”

For as obtuse as all the criticism was (very and repetitive), the self-reflexive irony was too little too late. Goldthwait should have taken it farther because I do believe he has something to say that others can’t.

The next peculiar point was that this wasn’t reality, it was more of an interpretation of reality. It was an exact duplication of the self-important values that our current society has, except it was missing significant details. I had assumed Bobcat Goldthwait had a plan to explain how this world fits into ours. Something way more inventive than “it was all a dream”, but something nonetheless. I have seen “World’s Greatest Dad” and I know how intelligent Goldthwait is and what he’s capable of. Instead, it just ended. The exact point he was making can be hard to deduce.

“God Bless America” left me with this odd feeling of intense cynicism of wanting to be not cynical, and then looking over my shoulder trying to guess who has snapped. It also left me with an endless realm of quotable retorts for a society feeling so entitled that everybody is superior to everybody else.


Red State (2011) - This is the stuff nightmares are made of.