April 11, 2015

Movie Review: God Bless America

If you are like me, you likely have a number of titles floating around your Netflix queue that have been sitting there a little longer than they probably should. Sitting there, teasing you, waiting for you to finally press play. Well, that finally happened for this little almost gem. I was looking for something a little over the top, something fun, perhaps even a little twisted. I am pretty sure I succeeded with God Bless America, a splattery satire of modern society. It all comes courtesy of the mind of Bobcat Goldthwait. Yes, that Bobcat Goldthwait, star of Hot to Trot and also the director of the Robin Williams movie World's Greatest Dad.

God Bless America takes a look at society through a bent lens and then proceeds to blast a hole right through it. Writer/director Bobcat Goldthwait tilts his head and then goes for the jugular with a movie that does what some of us might want to do to those spitting inane blather around us every day, fill them with lead. In a way it acts as a release for the audience so we do not need to actually do it, we can vent by watching the movie. It is kind of like how all of us cubicle dwellers may feel a little better about our lives when watching Office Space.

This movie is like a more comedic take on Natural Born Killers. Movies about media, inane pop sensibilities, and people who take up guns and let those do their talking for them. Yes, there is more to it than that, on both sides, but it seems that my brain does not feel like taking it any further. In any case, the two films are cut from similar cloth and filtered through two very different sets of sensibilities.

The movie has a very biting first half hour or so, that is what really drew me in. Sadly, it fails to retain that harsh edge and as it gears up for the later half, that biting sarcasm and edge fades away leaving behind an attempt to shock. No, it is not bad, but it fails to live up to its early promise. Fortunately, I still quite enjoyed all of the shooting.

It centers on Frank (Bill Murray's brother, Joel), a rather sad sack who we are first introduced to as he lays in his bed and is forced to listen to the blather of his neighbors. This is followed by a fantasy sequence that really sets the harsh tone of the film. It gains speed as he gets to work where his coworkers talk about the latest I pop television and other inconsequential things. It begins to take off when he is laid off for stupid reasons and then learns of a brain tumor, an inoperable one.

He decides to commit suicide, but before that, he takes out a popular reality star. He is witnessed by a rather pyscho/sociopath teen named Roxy (Tara Lynne Barr), who eggs him on and joins him as he goes about shooting those who are bad people.

It goes on from there, becoming somewhat entertainingly repetitive. It is interesting to note that while he sees himself as taking out the bad people, he himself becomes a bad person. It is a little slab of irony on top of everything else. It does not hurt that Joel Murray plays it very straight. It is clear he is no a comedian, and that works in the movies favor. He is smart, well spoken, and sick of it all. He embodies a lot of what a lot of people must feel, just taken to an explosive level.

God Bless America takes pop culture and shoots it in the face. There is plenty of splatter to go around and can be a cathartic experience for those watching, let a fictional tale take out the anger and frustrations you have. It is just too bad that it did not care he noting comments through the entire thing. Still, it is certainly worth spending time with.


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