God Bless America – Review

God Bless America – Review

Review by FilmFellaHenry – 7.9/10

Ever since Breaking Bad’s excellent portrayal of a good man’s moral decline, desperate anti-heroes have become all the rage. And I’m certainly not complaining: personally I find whiter-than-white protagonists boring in the extreme, not to mention largely unbelievable (as Batman keeps proving time and time again).

It seems that screeching actor/comedian/director Bobcat Goldthwait also shares this view, showcased in his new movie God Bless America. Drawing the good from both Kick Ass and Super, the gimmicky superhero bravado is gladly discarded, Goldthwaite preferring a Falling Down-esque premise of a normal guy going postal.

Frank (Joel Murray) is a typically downtrodden middle aged office worker, divorced from his wife, possessed of a daughter who hates him and colleagues that think he’s a fossil. The discovery of a terminal brain tumour is the last straw: Frank snaps, planning to exact some justice on America’s pop culture parasites. But what he doesn’t bargain on is the appearance of Roxy (Tara Lynne Barr), a cynical and ruthless teenager desperate to be his Bonnie on their journey of bloody retribution.

Primarily, God Bless America is a dark comedy that mocks both our current celebrity obsessed media culture and the mindless audience that fuels it. Frank’s extreme reaction to a vacuous society in moral free-fall is funny by way of his bumbling, unsubtle methods, but also easy to relate to: after all, who wouldn’t want to see some shrieking spoilt-brat rich girl’s brains decorating her new, unwanted car? Enforcing this theme, God Bless America benefits greatly from a multitude of hilarious well-crafted fake show snippets, which successfully parody Pop Idol, My Super Sweet 16 and a host of other appalling television shows.

Comedy aside, it’s clear form the get go that Bobcat Goldthwaite has something to get off his chest. However, his use of God Bless America as a soapbox to expound his views on a soulless, exploiting media industry does become a little trying by the end: it almost feels like Michael Moore has been shouting in your ear for 104mins. That’s not to say his views aren’t valid; Frank’s raging diatribes convey an important message delivered with passion and common sense. But ultimately, it’s just too much, too loud, too often, like Network without the irony. I’m all for an underdog ripping into a deserving majority; all I ask is that it is conveyed using a method greater than simply ranting into the camera. I’ve got Youtube for that.

On the whole, I thoroughly enjoyed God Bless America. It was consistently funny, possessed of sharp dialogue (peaking with a no-holds-barred attack on Diablo Cody) and some real chemistry between Frank and his potential Lolita sidekick Roxy. And despite an over-zealous approach, the message conveyed is certainly an important one, which I imagine will stay relevant for a long time. Recommended.

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About filmfellahenry
Film reviewer, script writer and occasional painter. Fan of Lumet, Aronofsky and Kubrick, with a good measure of early John Carpenter thrown in. Particularly like post-apocalyptic sci-fi, horror and fantasy film genres.

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