God Bless America (2011): Black Comedy Gold-thwait

Every once in a while you find a film that makes you ask the question, “Where have you been all my life?”

And mean it.

Written and directed by Bobcat Goldthwait (World’s Greatest Dad) God Bless America is a hard hitting black comedic look at all the things that make America unpleasant. It is the  movie I have been waiting for and didn’t know it.

The two main characters are Joel Murray‘s Frank and Tara Lynne Barr‘s Roxy. Frank is a divorced man living in an apartment with paper thin walls. He fantasizes about killing his obnoxious neighbours and their constantly screaming baby. At start of the film he is fired from his job for ‘sexually harassing’ the office receptionist (he didn’t) and discovers that he has an inoperable brain tumour which will eventually kill him. His ex-wife lives with their overly spoiled and unpleasant daughter and her police officer fiance.

Frank decides after yet another night of television channel hopping  that the tv reality programs and the country’s news people are made up of profiteering and mean people. Believing that his tumour will kill him anyway he decides to shoot himself. While he has the pistol barrel in his mouth he watches part of an episode of My Super Sweet Sixteenth Birthday.

The birthday girl is spoiled, selfish and self centered. She screams at both her parents that what they are doing for her birthday isn’t good enough. Frank takes the gun out of his mouth, leaves his apartment and steals his neighbor’s car.He drives to the birthday girl’s school to kill her instead of himself.

Joel Murray as Frank

Easily the funniest sequence in the film is where he meets Roxy and then goes down to kill birthday girl Chloe (Maddie Hasson). He handcuffs her to her birthday car’s steering wheel after she tells him, “You can have the car it’s the wrong one!” Frank replies, “I know.” He then places a rag in the gas tank opening and sets it on fire.

The placing of the rag, setting it alight and the slow-motion walk away from the car is accompanied by a very cool soundtrack. Unfortunately, before Frank gets too far away the  rag falls out of the gas tank and gets blown away from the car. Frank rushes to put the burning rag back. A group of Chloe’s ‘friends’ come up and Frank decides to shoot her instead.

Getting back into his neighbor’s car he flees the crime scene. Roxy is wildly impressed by his actions and tracks Frank down to ask if she can accompany him on his killing spree.

Tara Lynne Barr as Roxy

This unlikely pair spend the rest of the film bonding and killing annoying and mean spirited people.

Despite this being the blackest of comedies, the film walks a fine line between satire and drama. Joel Murray’s acting should have garnered him a bucket load of awards. His performance in the film showed every step his character took in his arc. By the time the film reaches it inevitable climax, Murray is so convincing it raised the hairs on my arms as I watched him.

Barr’s Roxy was a brilliant blend of teen angst, raging hormones and tunnel vision. She could, in my mind at least, give Ellen Page a run for her money as the new Hollywood ingenue.

The film itself was a perfect blend of ‘fly-on-the-wall’ documentary style filming with no musical ambience at all to all out musical set pieces which fit the scene so well that it was like listening to the sound equivalent of a tight fitting glove.

This independent film was a joy to watch from the very first frame of film to the last. It managed to make me a lifetime fan of Joel Murray and an ardent admirer of Tara Lynne Barr. Murray I would cheerfully cast in everything and Barr has fallen into the category of ‘keep your eyes on this one, she’s going places.’

God Bless America does not hit one sour note. It is paced well, edited perfectly and ends as it logically should. I could write reams more about this movie, but I would soon enter into spoiler territory. I’ll have to finish here and state quite simply that if you haven’t already seen this movie, you need to.

I will be purchasing this film to see if they have any ‘making of featurettes and/or director/cast interviews. This one is definitely a ‘keeper.’

An Arkansas Razorback in Queen Elizabeth Country 4

The traditional "running hog" image ...
Arkansas Razorback

Before I moved out of my now haunted flat, I was sent to Ramstein Air Base in Germany aka USAFE Headquarters for a week. I’ll have to write another blog post or two about an Arkansas Razorback in Europe, I guess.

I was glad to get back. In spite of the fact that Ramstein AB was huge and boasted a Burger King, I didn’t take to it very much. Part of the tour of the base when we arrived was showing us the blown-up Headquarters building that had been car-bombed by a German terrorist group. So although Germany was beautiful, it was also a place where you could get blown-up while doing your day-to-day ‘peace-time’ duties.

It left an impression all right.

The first person I bumped into when I got back to the village was Frank my toilet sharing buddy. As I walked up to my front door, he sat in the little courtyard outside our adjourning flats, barbecuing a steak for a young lady in high heels and blue-jean shorts.

He had a fixed grin on his face and he greeted me effusively.

“Hey, Holmes! When did you get back?” This was said through gritted teeth as he talked through his fixed grin.

I stopped and looked at Frank.

“What?” I started laughing, “I got back today. Why are you talking like that? Are you drunk?”

Frank shook his head. “No, Holmes. I got my jaw broke by  a fucking midget! My jaws wired shut.”

I laid my duffel bag down and sat on it.

“Dude, what happened?”

“Well, Holmes, I was in the pub and it was close to closing time. Tom was serving last orders when these three punks came in.”

Frank took a drink out of his beer and turned the steak over.

“They started giving Tom a hard time and I was the only one left in the pub, man. The midget was talking big and threatening Tom. So I stood up and got involved.”

“What happened?”

“Well, you know I’ve been taking Karate lessons, right?”

I nodded. Frank took the steak off the grill and after putting it on a plate handed it to the girl. “Here you are darlin’ put your mouth around that. Why don’t you check and see if your boyfriend wants one. I’ll be glad to put one on for him.”

The girl giggled and said okay and trotted obediently into the hall leading to Frank’s flat. I looked a Frank, stunned. “Isn’t she one of your ‘massage’ girls?”

Frank nodded.

“And she brought her boyfriend?”

“Yeah, Holmes. He’s cool with it. He brings her over on his motorbike..”

I was very surprised, I mean, these girls didn’t give massages, if you get my meaning. The idea that the girl’s boyfriend would tag along and have a steak dinner with his girlfriend’s client was beyond my comprehension. She didn’t come back out, so I can only assume that her boyfriend had some scruples that precluded eating a steak from clients. Either that or he was sharing hers.

Frank handed me a beer and continued his story.

“Well I’m just about to get my black belt, Holmes, so I figured I could take care of these little chumps, no problem.”

“So what happened.”

“The littlest dude in the group, the midget, hops up and punches me.” He paused, “Once.” Frank rubbed his hand over his jaw. “Little fucker knocked me out and broke my jaw,” He pointed to first one side of his jaw and then the other, “Twice.”

I bent over double with laughter. Frank stood glaring at me for a minute and then started braying laughter through his wired up jaw.

Taking a swig of beer, Frank stopped laughing and glared off into the distance.

“Man I’m gonna sue that son-of-a-bitch instructor. Or at least get my money back.” Shaking his head he started back into his flat muttering, “One punch, Holmes, one fuckin’ punch.”

I went into my flat then, only to discover that my electric meter had run out of money the week I was gone and everything in my little refrigerator had spoiled.