|god bless america||2 out of 2 users found this review helpful.|
"I know it's not normal to want to kill, but I am not normal."
God Bless America is like one of those weird dreams you had that one time. As writer and director, Bobcat Goldthwait managed to say things and go places that you and I could never go. It’s a fantasy (a messed up one) that lacks a filter and spouts out rants and aggressions, possibly to make a point, but ultimately to just speak the mind. In that respect, it is very sad. In fact, by its end, the film turns truly depressing under its satirical, trigger-happy action comedy roots. This is what I like about Bobcat, though. He’s a storyteller who really seems to care about his characters and wants them to go through not only what they want, but what they need in proper return. The case with God Bless America is more complex and tragic, maybe not even fully realized, than expected from the normal fare. But what would you expect from a movie about two people mercilessly murdering people with no one else on their side? It’s an exhilarating film that will have you laughing and relating, or horribly offended (in which case you’d probably shot if you were in the movie.) At some point, it just feels like complaining, and Goldthwait wanders into maybe undeserved territory, yet it’s pretty hard to deny the fact that this is an more impressive practice of style for him, as well as for his direction of actors. The substance disappointingly seems to have one trick to it, but it is a fascinating one that some people, don’t feel ashamed, just need to vent about. This movie will let you do that, for better or worse.
Frank Murdoc (Joel Murray) has cancer. He had no immediate family, is divorced with a kid who hates him and anyone who doesn’t give her what she wants, his wife is getting remarried, he just got fired from his job for unintentional sexual harassment, his neighbors are loud and relentless about it, and he pretty much hates life. I don’t blame him, considering his situation. Television and alcohol is pretty much all he’s got left, and the former of which really pisses him off. It’s full of mean spirited people (like people making fun of a slow-person on an American Idol-like show), idiots, unnecessary violence, political incorrectness, and just all-around assholishness- everything that is wrong in the world to him. Just as he is about to end it all with a bullet to the head, something catches his eye. On the television, Frank witnesses a show similar to MTV’s My Sweet Sixteen. A teenage girl is being chronicled complaining to her parents for screwing up her birthday party, getting her the wrong expensive car, and essentially not acknowledging that she is the most important person on the planet. As a last act of justice with nothing left to lose, Frank decides to steal his neighbor’s car, drive to where this girl lives, and murder her. By the sidelines is another teenager, Roxy (Tara Lynne Barr) whose response to this violent act is “awesome.” After convincing him to not convince cancer, Roxy tags along with Frank to go on a bit of a spree, ending the lives of people who truly don’t deserve to live. But to what end, folks- WHERE DOES IT END? THINK ABOUT THE CHILDREN.
Bobcat Goldthwait doesn’t think about the children. Good. He has no limits here, but toes these boundary-less lands within reasonable pace and tone for the characters. They have standards; though different in range they may be, they nonetheless live by them. Frank kills those who he believes actually deserve it, whatever that may entail. Roxy, being much younger and with more of a relentless, mindless bloodlust, just wants to kill those that bother her. Goldthwait does right by writing these characters as individual, natural born killers, and impresses with clashing the two ideals. They share something. They feel lost in this society. It’s Frank and Roxy vs. The World. Most of the time, in their interactions with each other and those that cross them, they rant. They rant, go on lengthy monologues and dialogues with powerful prose and attitude, then pull the trigger. Maybe the best thing about this aspect is that these rants are really well written… maybe for a stage-reading or something. Goldthwait’s vernacular is complicated and thick, and his rhythm is even stronger than bullets theirselves. Issues begin to appear around the fourth or fifth run of extensive speaking, but the performances still hold strong, consistently, especially when the film can, and does go for working with emotion. The respective modes of loneliness of our protagonists are true and pained, and Bobcat succeeds in making their relations and disagreements genuine in forming their unique relationship. It’s even better that the performances from Joel Murray and Tara Lynn Barr are both delightful and heartbreaking in one.
Murray’s performance as Frank is devastating. As a man who practically has anything that could go wrong go wrong for him, his depression feels real. It’s quiet, and that’s for the better- never does he over act in this film. When he’s having fun, it feels right by his personality already portrayed. He is natural as Frank- a real human being with flashes of being pushed to the edge, of which he does even more impressively. He doesn’t really reach explosive levels of aggression in his verbal tone, but how he speaks his words, with flabbergasted expression, yet with a confident and clear attitude that speaks that his mind is in a sure place, is complex but realized with ease. As for the younger killer, Tara Lynn Barr plays Roxy quite well. She seems to understand her limited yet vulnerable mindset as a young adult, which she utilizes as juxtaposition with her character’s always meditated, but newly realized killer-instinct. When Roxy has a gun, she is ruthless and has spirit. She gets to speak her mind in this new stage of her life. She’s excited, but definitely emotional. I mean hell, she’s still sixteen. She has insecurities about her looks and own well being, which she asks Frank about. His inability to really care anymore (which eventually grows into a caring state that he, and she, haven’t felt for anyone in quite some time, not sexually of course) affects their relationship like an earthquake, which Lynn Barr handles with an air of legitimacy, despite the heightened reality of her character and her situation. With the chemistry these two help create and let soar, God Bless America is borderline one of the best father daughter tales ever written.
Where things fall apart is with where Goldthwait eventually goes with the story and characters. After all this murdering going on, things can’t really go down smooth, can they? It’s easy to say that he has no choice for shit to hit the dark fan, as it’s the only logical direction to result in, but even by that fair case, something’s missing. While I, like many others, enjoyed the extensive and impressive ranting, all of it feels like stand-up material and something you’d tell your therapist. His work gets preachy here, with crossing all lines, and managing to cross the ones after those. The film turns into just this stuff. Despite how well written and performed it all is, it kind of grows tired. And you know, it makes sense that the writing is so personal and passionate. I don’t really mind the tone taken. It’s just that there’s so much of it that it’s kind of exhausting, and a bit of a bummer. If this film is portrayed in a dream-like-state where the perspective is all from Frank’s affected mindset, then I’d be fine with this, but things never take that official turn or standpoint. The implication is fine enough, but after a while, Goldthwait only concentrates on these issues and stances that Frank takes on society, and only that. The relationship he has with Roxy doesn’t flesh out to an appropriate finality, even though it ends up at a place that is pretty much labeled as a finish line. Goldthwait gets lost in this artificial delusion. I mean sure, it’s all fun and games, but even he set this movie up to be about this relationship the protagonists share. It’s sadly unfulfilling in the end, leaving you with a disheveled and angry, depressed tone to wallow in by your lonesome, just like the characters have throughout the film. It’s funny, but it’s actually kind of sad. That’s impressive and an upset at once, really.
If anything, Bobcat managed to improve on one thing, since his 2009 crowd pleaser World’s Greatest Dad, and it’s his technical style. This was definitely downplayed in World’s Greatest Dad, but nonetheless ever-present and impressive- pleasing to the eye. God Bless America being an action film, Goldthwait pulls out all the stops in effort to make this movie look good, and damn, it looks GOOD. His cinematography looks gorgeous in capturing a strange but welcome amount of beautiful nature. As a constant, the film is well composed and captured with an exciting level of loose and gritty observation. There’s a wonderful amount of quick editing and animation for hyper-active montages and action scenes that helps make everything just delightful. And as per its great usage in World’s Greatest Dad, slow motion makes another prominent appearance in here, used for wonderful montages set to great music. This kind of style gives me a metaphorical hard-on, and it succeeds here too. A unique kind of edge the film takes is when portraying television. For each and every show parodied, including all MTV reality show affairs, American Idol, and all political commentary ventures, God Bless America looks hilariously legitimate, despite the goofy satirical tone at hand. Though the context and inner workings of the film don’t end up working as a whole, at least Bobcat’s visual style continues to be a treat for the eyes.
This movie will not have a unanimous consensus about its quality. It sounds like a dumb statement, as all movies are like that, but really, those who like it will like it at strangely varying degrees, and things will be the same on the negative. I can appreciate what is attempted to be done here. It’s great- it’s something that had to be said and done, and it is given effort in a stylish, strong fashion. The performances are fantastic, and do justice to some great, passionate writing. It’s just that when trying to meld these spirited words with a legitimate storyline with well-crafted relationships, the aspects stay separate. The life between our protagonists is beautiful with the time given, which is sadly not enough. It’s kind of tossed out the window in place of the preach, fire, brimstone, and gunfire. It’s disappointing, because the film could have been something even more special than it actually ended up being. But regardless, these two efforts do work side by side in a film that has something to say, and says it until it is muted. God Bless America is respectable, and even good fun. I just wish that it lived up to its implied ideas, which is more than good- but you should be willing to settle for even that folks. I mean the mere fact that anyone even acted upon this ridiculous and messed up idea of a film should speak something worthy about the attempt, and very worth of a watch it is- for the balls on display. They're some hilarious, disturbing, bold, bloody balls, man.
God Bless America gets a 4/5 for being insane and not caring... it's just that sometimes, I wish it did care, even when I was behind its bloodsoaked apathy.
Trailer 2: God Bless America
Bobcat Goldthwait's crazy life-in-these-United-States film gets a green-band trailer, so you can finally show it to your mom!
Trailer: God Bless America
Is writer/director Bobcat Goldthwait going super, super dark, or just wallowing in lame post-Idiocracy, facile social commentary? We'll find out together when God Bless America comes around.
|news||In Theaters: May 11th||staceywi|
|forum||Go watch this RIGHT NOW, it's EXCELLENT!||AssInAss|
|review||god bless america (4 out of 5)||TheLawnWrangler|
|news||Joey's Travelogue of SXSW 2012||JoeyF|
|forum||Trailer: Looks amazing!||bigsmoke77|
|blog||Litrock's 2012 Hype List||litrock|