Oh Bobcat, what are we going to do with you? A few years back you threw us for a loop with your completely wrong and totally incorrect film ‘World’s Greatest Dad’ which we personally thought was borderline genius, only let down by and ending I found somewhat disappointing. Now here you are again causing trouble with your latest epic ‘God Bless America’, solving the problems of America’s social decline with a shotgun and a soapbox. The shotgun was good, the soapbox got a little weary after a while.
Frank (Joel Murray) is having a bad day. He can’t sleep because his white trash neighbors and their Camaro can’t control their screaming baby, he can’t watch TV because it’s banality pisses him off to no end, he’s divorced, his five year old daughter is a spoiled brat, his co-workers at his cubicle infested job are idiots, not that it matters because he’s about to be fired, and later on this day his doctor is going to tell him he has a brain tumor with his clock ticking down to triple zero real soon. It’s a bad day.
With a life this crappy, Frank, a former marine, has decided to end it all. But then he has an epiphany. Why not just end the lives of all the stupid, rude, and obnoxious people. The culturally devoid. The politically backward. Sounds like plan.
First thing Frank does is track down some spoiled teenage reality star and smokes her, an act committed right in front of sixteen year old Roxy (Tara Lynne Barr) a prototypically disaffected youth who is completely on board with what Frank has done. In fact she convinces Frank to hold off on killing himself temporarily, suggesting that the two of them travel across the nation and clean this mess up. Taking psycho sixteen year-olds on cross country murdering sprees probably isn’t the most responsible thing an adult can do, but there it is. To Frank's benefit he did resist slightly, but he probably should’ve fought it a little harder.
So off they go, these two whackjob Blue Staters, with the one Red State leaning belief being an opposition to gun control, taking out rude people, inconsiderate people, reality show contestants and judges, people who think wrong… or I should say differently than they do… all the while engaging in scintillating conversation. Frank does have the added issue of dealing with Roxy, who is a teenage girl with all the teenage girl insecurities, along with being a mass murderer, but they are making do.
Just one more stop in Los Angeles to eliminate the misguided wrong-thinking sycophants in that horrible city. As if there were enough bullets. Good luck with that you psychos.
Personally, I am not a fan of reality television. Outside of the occasional episode of Fear Factor way back or ‘World’s Dumbest Criminals’ and… of course… ‘Cheaters’ which is universally awesome… I avoid reality TV like the plague. I remember watching ‘Dancing with the Stars’ one evening and I kept changing the channel to get away from it, but the channel kept snapping back. Eventually my mother in law had to remind me that I wasn’t at my house and to put her f@#kin’ remote down. I guess my point is I don’t think if reality TV stars should be killed, no matter how much I despise what they do. Thus we have the dilemma with Robert Francis Goldthwaite and his film ‘God Bless America’ which takes black comedy to its very limits and probably ends up snapping that cord by the time it’s all over. Pushing the politics to the side for a minute, which will be difficult since this movie 99.6% politics, ‘God Bless America’ is wryly funny, it is very dark, Joel Murray and Tara Lynne Barr are great in it, the dialog that Bobcat has written for these two is just as good, and even though Bobcat leans to the left, considering he murdered Alternate Bill O’Reilly in this movie, but I’m sure somebody they murdered is gonna vibe with you on some level. Be it alternate Simon Cowell, alternate Paula Abdul or alternate incredibly rude teenagers at the movie theater.
The thing is as the movie goes on, the fun of watching the unenlightened getting themselves blasted starts to fade away as the audience gets pounded over head, repeatedly, with proselytizing speech after proselytizing speech which got a little weary after a while and I’d even go as far as to say it was desensitizing. Eventually watching the un-enlightened get mowed down was starting to lose its impact, so when Frank eventually made it to Los Angeles I kind of lost interest in the senseless killing of stupid people. And I hate Los Angeles.
But we admire Bobcat Goldthwaite because Bobcat does what precious few filmmakers with any kind juice do any more, and that’s take some risks, take a stand, and push the envelope. If nothing else, ‘God Bless America’ accomplishes those rarely seen tasks very, very well.