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.
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.
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.’
- God Bless America (mhmoviereviews.com)
- God Bless America (2011) (atthemovieswithsilver.wordpress.com)
- God Bless America (Bobcat Golthwait, 2012) (themastershot.wordpress.com)
- A Catheter Experience: God Bless America #moviereview (shoutsfromtheabyss.wordpress.com)
- Students Sing “God Bless America” At Wal-Mart, Manager Calls Cops (miami.cbslocal.com)
- God Bless America (the movie) (paupipauspeaks.wordpress.com)