God Bless America

Posted May 13, 2012 by in


Total Score

3.5/ 5

Quick Stats

Genre: comedy, satire
Director: Bobcat Goldthwait
MPAA Rating: R
Actors: Joel Murray, Tara Lynne Barr, Mackenzie Brooke Smith
Length: 105 minutes
Release Date: 05/11/2012
Studio: Darko Entertainment (presents), Jerkschool Productions (in association with)
What We Thought

Want to watch rude people get theirs? Watch God Bless America.

by Daniel Hodgson
Full Article
Be honest, there’s a few people in this world we’re glad are gone.  And by gone, I mean dead.  Not just a little dead, really dead.  Bid Laden, Gadaffi, Saddam Hussein.  But why stop there?  How about certain radio and TV personalities who hate women and minorities?  How about neighbors who play their music too loud?  And people who text at the movies while sitting in the front row.  Wouldn’t it be great if we could just…
     Not that we’d actually do that—that would be wrong, plain and simple.  But we do fantasize about it.  God Bless America is about just that—our darkest fantasies brought to life on the big screen.  Our culture is fixated on fame at any price.  On trashy reality TV shows.  On poorly behaved celebrities.  You are what you eat.  People who gorge themselves upon this drivel run the risk of acting that way themselves.  They park like shit, their phones are an appendage, and they don’t know better than to keep their bigoted opinions to themselves.
     When Frank Murdock (Joel Murray) is diagnosed with cancer, he nearly kills himself, but stops himself when he catches a reality TV show about a spoiled teen brat.  She throws a tantrum on air when her parents bought her the wrong new car for her birthday.  A drunken Frank drives to her school and shoots the…”young lady”.  Roxy (Tara Lynn Barr), another teen student, witnesses the murder.
     Roxy finds Frank hiding out at a motel.  “This is the greatest day ever!  Do you take requests?”  She convinces him that that there’s so much more good they could do.  Like getting rid of pastors who preach intolerance, and gossip TV show hosts, to name just a few.  Frank and Roxy then set out on a road trip across America, killing those who are mean, rude, and toxic to our society.
     In other words, there really isn’t much story.  It’s a lot of sermonizing rants and random killings.  Dialog can sound unnatural, even within its own satiric world.  Lines run on much too long, so much so that Barr runs out of breathe delivering monologues.  However, short exchanges do work, and one-liners get laughs.  As far as story goes, scenes don’t always go the way you think they’re going to, with unexpected payoffs.
     Most importantly, God Bless America passes the character test.  First, create two characters.  Then put them in danger.  If you’re not worried about them, the movie is wasting your time.  It’s a simple test to be sure, but the fact is, many films—if not most—don’t pass it.  I didn’t care about Statham in Safe or Wahlberg in Contraband.  But I did care about Frank and Roxy.  Frank is fed up with our inconsiderate, celebrity-obsessed culture, and Roxy approaches the spree with zeal, and has zest for life.  There’s a moment when they’re cornered, and we want them to get out safely.  We root for them like Bonnie and Clyde, fighting not against the banks, but against cultural bankruptcy.

About the Author

Daniel Hodgson

Daniel has a degree in film from the University of Texas at Austin, and writes about himself in the third-person, because that's the fashion.


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