God Bless America (2012)



God Bless America ReviewStarring Joel Murray, Tara Lynne Barr

Directed by Bobcat Goldthwait


From the delightfully wicked mind of writer/director Bobcat Goldthwait comes his latest dark satire, God Bless America, which follows Frank (Joel Murray, Hatchet), a well-meaning, albeit jaded, lump of a 40-something who often fantasizes about shooting his neighbor’s noisy baby in the face with a shotgun (Goldthwait sets the tone early on by living out this fantasy in comedic fashion that will have anyone who has ever sat near a crying infant gleefully smiling).

But Frank's got other problems; he still has to deal with his soon-to-be remarried ex-wife and can't seem to manage his bratty daughter, who hates him and anyone who doesn't give in to her every whim. And just when he thinks his life couldn’t possibly get any worse, Frank suddenly finds him fired from his soul-sucking office job and diagnosed with a life-threatening brain tumor.

With life looking bleak and nothing to look forward to, Frank begins to consider suicide but realizes that won't solve anything; the world will still be filled with inconsiderate and cruel people, which is something he CAN do something about. So rather than shoot himself, Frank sets out to take out any degenerate who can't display any sort of common courtesy and threatens the very fabric of our society. He starts off with a spoiled teen from a "My Super Sweet 16"-type of show, but as he's trying to make his getaway, Frank is spotted by Roxy (Tara Lynne Barr), an unbalanced teenager who's just as fed up with society as Frank is.

Soon the pair set off on a cross-country journey to rid the world of inconsiderate idiots who can't follow Frank's one rule - just be nice - and as the body count grows in the wake of their killing spree (which includes talkative moviegoers who leave their cell phones on during a movie, right wing televised fearmongers and anyone whose selfish attitude just happens to piss them off), the media begin to take notice, and it's up to Frank and Roxy to make one final statement before the police can catch up with them and put an end to their plan.

On the surface it would be easy to accuse of God Bless America as one long-winded diatribe about the annoyances of modern society, and sure, it is apparent after seeing the film that Goldthwait does certainly hate a lot of stuff, but as a whole the film ends up winning you over due to the spectacular work of the film's leads- Murray and Barr.

Murray, often a supporting player who has been involved with several other Goldthwait projects in the past, and Barr, a relative newcomer, display an incredible amount of chemistry together, with their expletive-laden interactions always charming and amusing; there's a tenderness and awkwardness to the burgeoning relationship between Frank and Roxy, with Goldthwait thankfully always keeping things realistic (well, as realistic as you can about two killers hell-bent on offing the annoying and rude people of the world).

With hints of movies like Harold and Maude, Falling Down and Bonnie and Clyde lurking deep within its DNA, God Bless America is one of the most blisteringly fun blood-soaked, violently over-the-top flicks in some time that cleverly manages to not only entertain but get you thinking as well (which is a rarity). Even though the film is hampered from time to time by Goldthwait’s often heavy-handed approach, God Bless America still manages to be incredibly charming and often sadistic, led by terrific and heartfelt performances by Murray and Barr, who make vibrant work of the filmmaker's though-provoking material.

The only real shame about God Bless America is that those who would benefit most from Goldthwait's message about being a little kinder to the world around them probably won't take the hint, but overall anyone who has ever been fed up by the vacuous nature of modern pop culture or by inconsiderate people who have little regard for others will find a lot to like and should no doubt enjoy living vicariously through Frank and Roxy's exploits in God Bless America.

4 out of 5

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