Review – God Bless America

God Bless America Poster

Title: God Bless America
Genre(s): Comedy, Action
Director(s): Bobcat Goldthwait
Release Year: 2012
IMDB: 7.3/10
Rotten Tomatoes: 67%

Bobcat Goldthwait may very well be one of the most controversially out-spoken directors today, and God Bless America is definitely a film that embodies the characteristics expected of a Goldthwait film. The movie follows Frank (Joel Murray), as he goes on a mission to rid the world of society’s ills. During his journey, he’s accompanied by Roxy (Tara Lynne Barr), a teenager who feels the same way as Frank, but with a much wider approach to who she deems one of ‘society’s problems’. The main thing to take from God Bless America is that it’s a movie that wants to commentate on contemporary society, but only really manages to do it in speeches delivered by Frank. The film loses its entertainment value fairly quickly, but it has moments that keep the viewer engrossed here and there.

The main problem with this film is it doesn’t quite understand who its viewers will be. God Bless America is a movie that appeals to me and many others who can’t stand walking outside and interacting with mainstream society for longer than a couple minutes. Unfortunately, the premise of the film (killing those who are ruining society) is never quite fulfilled. The film starts off on a high note, giving the viewer so much sympathy to Frank who loses his job, is divorced, and finds out he has a terminal brain tumor. He contemplates suicide but instead decides to take out some of society’s problems, with the coaxing of Roxy, who watches him kill his first victim. Unfortunately, the movie starts off giving great scenes of blood and gore, with some awesome cinematography, but then quickly begins generic kills that don’t appeal to those of us looking for a film to express our disdain for society in more creative ways.

That may be the reason why the character of Roxy, played by Tara Lynne Barr (who definitely just feels like an amateur Chloe Moretz), feels so unnecessary as a character. She’s simply an embodiment of teenagers that just want to be entertained every moment of their lives. The problem with this is that the movie feels so grounded in reality, with the way society reacts to the killings (always blaming something that isn’t the real problem), that Roxy just ends up feeling absurd and too over-the-top. If Goldthwait really wanted to do this right, he could have had her as an imaginary character created by Frank, seeing as how he has been diagnosed with a brain tumor. Then the extremely ridiculous character of Roxy could flourish and still continue the grounded approach that the film surprisingly had. She wouldn’t be able to kill anybody, but she would still be able to lead Frank to kill people. Some characters such as the news anchor who loved his country were over-the-top characters, but for any of us who have watched Fox news, we could believe it. But a 16 year old who sees someone kill someone and wants nothing less than to help kill people as well, is way less realistic and believable.

Joel Murray has got the face that should be in more dark comedies.

Then there are the monologues, delivered by Joel Murray’s character with the perfect amount of cynicism and thought, which are incredibly well-written and embody everything that the audience of this film will enjoy. The cynicism towards the mainstream is characterized by these speeches, but there are really only three instances of speeches that I can think of that really captivated me. There’s a good 30 minutes of this movie that could have been cut, but the film would be way too short. But perhaps that would have been the greater statement on society: the average viewer needs to constantly be given gore or something to think about, or they won’t keep attentive to what’s happening. The first 30 minutes of this film reflect everything that is wrong with America today, but the movie really doesn’t payoff until the very end with another great monologue by Joel Murray, and a beautifully shot sequence.

With the exception of the opening 30 minutes, Joel Murray’s performance, the three well-delivered speeches, and the ending, God Bless America is a really disappointing film for those of us who feel the same way about society. There’s not much that this film offers elsewhere that makes the film a classic film. It is a movie that I may watch again so many years down the road, and so will others to see if society has changed for better or for worse. The film’s killings could have played better as a montage, so if you’re looking to this film for an expression of violence towards society, you’re out of luck because it doesn’t do anything that other recent films like Kick-Ass, Red State and Tucker & Dale vs Evil didn’t already do much better. In fact, while this film plays more grounded in cynicism, I would recommend watching Red State more than this because it will provide you with reasons to hate society as well as play out some incredible action sequences. God Bless America could have been a classic film that entertained as well as informed, but instead, it just does the latter, with the main character being the only thing keeping the film interesting.

Overall: Not Recommended

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