On a mission to rid society of its most repellent citizens, terminally ill Frank makes an unlikely accomplice in 16-year-old Roxy. (IMDB)
Writer: Bobcat Goldthwait
Director: Bobcat Goldthwait
Stars: Joel Murray, Tara Lynne Barr and Mackenzie Brooke
Runtime/Rating: 105 Minutes/ R
Popcorn Score: Medium Popcorn
God Bless America is my kind of feel-good movie. Yes, some people would describe a feel-good movie as a nice family feature staring Matt Damon with a Zoo, or others as a light romantic comedy where the two distant lovers get together in the end, I use that phrase, in this case, to describe a political, bloody, dark comedy where an unlikely duo team up to go around and kill all who are wrecking the American civilization.
The film by Bobcat Goldthwait stars Joel Murray (Mad Men) as Frank who has recently been fired from his job and been given the news that he has a brain tumor. Along with his devastating migraines, he lives in an apartment with paper thin walls next to an awful young family with a crying baby. One night while channel surfing and viewing all that is wrong with the world in reality TV, the news and politics, he decides to kill a girl on one of those “Sweet 16” type shows. This girl in particular, is shown throwing a fit because her parents bought her a car rather than the Escalade she had asked for. He heads off to kill this princess of reality TV and during the act is spotted and encouraged by another girl from the school. A typical (for Hollywood) outcast type, who reads and has bangs and is mature for her age, and also shares many of Frank’s views on the American population. Despite Frank’s initial wishes, he finally allows the girl to tag along and they embark on an impossible, cross country killing spree. One that requires an incredible suspension of belief as the obvious pair is seemingly untracked by law enforcement. It all culminates on a recreated (with a low budget) American Idol type stage.
Unfortunately there are too many occasions throughout the film when the unlikely pair of a 45 year old man and a high school teen riff off of each other throwing out their own lists of who they believe “deserve to die”.
“People who use rockstar as an adjective. As in rock star parking.
People who pound energy drinks all day.
People who use the term edgy, in your face, or extreme.
Some Kardashians, my gym coach. People who give high fives. People who talk about Punk Rock”
I tend to agree that many of the generalities they are talking about are disgusting, revolting, and terrible for American culture. (Not specifically all of the examples above but more so others in the film) The problem with this, is that I can’t quite get behind this pair going around and killing all of these, more or less, innocent people simply because they think they “deserve to die”. If those are the insignificant terms for accepting murder, I think we are opening ourselves up to accept just about any murder. For this reason, the movie didn’t end up being as funny as I had hoped when it started.
As I gathered my thoughts, I couldn’t help to compare the two murderers on this cross country spree to one of my most beloved characters on TV; Dexter Morgan. Why is it that I can adore him for his actions every week, but not fully go along with what is happening in God bless America? Perhaps it is because Dexter murders murderers. Kim Kardashian and the cast of Leguna Beach, although despicable in every way, are not murderers. Or maybe it is because Dexter doesn’t carry himself above the rest of society, he knows he is a monster. Bobcat’s characters are preachy throughout and believe that they are better than others. When in reality, what they are doing is worse than anything anyone they are killing has done.
Maybe I didn’t allow myself to get lost and enjoy God Bless America as much as I should have. It was very fun at times and is a movie that fans of Bobcat and dark comedies should probably check out. Unfortunately for me, due to the preachy attitude, the low budget, the extension of disbelief that was asked of me, and the fact that I couldn’t truly root for either of the killers, a potentially very fun poke at a crumbling American society came up a bit short.