directed by Bobcat Goldthwait
The first time I saw the trailer for this, I really wanted to see it. As a fan of “Natural Born Killers,” “Idiocracy,” and “Falling Down,” I was pleased that another of these films were being made, but I’m not entirely pleased with the outcome of “God Bless America.”
The story is simple and, at times, a bit far-fetched and convenient to the plight of the main character, Frank. In an epiphany, Frank interchanges his hatred for his personal health and marriage situations and his hatred for consumerism and the state of the U.S. civilization and pop culture. He knows that the things he hates are all around him, yet he refuses to change anything about his living condition, entertainment options, or his job to lessen the stress. He feels the only thing he can do is drink and commit suicide…or is it? His sidekick in frustration, a 16- year-old, antisocial girl named Roxy (played by Tara Lynne Barr, who looks like a younger Christina Ricci), is OK, but her love for all things to be obliterated gets really old and is very much filled with “teen angst bullshit.” (I kind of wish he would have taken his own life because there really is no point in killing off a handful of people who don’t subscribe to his version of being civilized, but leave it to a divorced dude to imagine exploring and plundering the lands with a younger girl who just sees him as a dissenter and won’t judge his twisted ways.) It was good seeing cameos by Mo Gaffney, Larry Miller, and Tom Kenney, all comics who probably met director Bobcat Goldthwait back in his prime stand-up comedy years.
I hated the diatribe about shock-rocker Alice Cooper, but I loved small nuances and gags, like when a flaming rag kept falling out of some girl’s car’s gas tank (which Frank was trying to blow up). Joel Murray (Frank) made me think of Phillip Seymour Hoffman in “Happiness,” at times. Or better yet Ron Livingston as “Peter” from Office Space.
If you generally like movies that fantasize about vigilantes who take out their aggressions against the blind American society, this movie’s for you, but it’s pretty simpleminded, and some of it feels forced and pretentious. The inclusion of numerous modern targets makes it feel like an immediately dated film, even for the current year. I grew up seeing Bobcat on TV, so it just felt good to contribute to his current project by renting this movie through Video On Demand.
Sidenote: Goldthwait mentioned in an interview on The Nerdist Podcast (#193) (found here at this link) that he felt that the current attitude in society right now is one where everything has to be “extreme.” I disagree (in fact, everything is so boring and Disney-esque, compressed and prefab-marketed directly for certain groups), and I would even say that I felt he made an extreme movie, which is exactly the thing I hate normally.
I’m still on the fence with this one.
5/10 yellow middle-age Camaros