50 Movies in 100 Days: God Bless America

February 7, 2013

God Bless America

The best way to describe this movie is a pitch black comedy about the sensationalism of America and how horrible people are famous when they should be ignored.  It’s incredibly dark, closest dark comedy in terms of the dark humor I’d compare it to Teeth, but this one might even have Teeth beat, it is less uncomfortable than Teeth to watch, but it really hits hard to some issues about how we as America are obsessed with celebrities, and how we hold up and mindlessly repeat what people say because someone says it.

The story starts with Frank, and insomniac with migraine issues, a lousy job, and a general contempt for reality television and faux celebrities.  His life isn’t all that great, his daughter hates him, and his ex-wife is getting remarried, he loses his job because he was trying to be nice to someone, and his Doctor tells him he has a brain tumor that really is as risky to operate on as it is to leave in his head.  He almost kills himself one night but comes up with one thing he has to do first, as he is watching an MTV like Sweet 16 show.  He wants to take out the spoiled brat of a girl on the show who complains that she didn’t get the right car, that she couldn’t find the right dress, etc.  So he goes to her school where he meets Roxy as he is spying on the other girl.  Roxy basically thinks he’s a creeper until she happens to see him kill the girl.  He takes off in a hurry and again tries to kill himself, but Roxy stops him, because she has a laundry list of bad people whom she wants killed and she tells him about her family life which is terrible.  They go off on a killing spree, killing bad people, like the sweet 16’s parents, people who talk and don’t turn their phones off during movies, someone who takes up two parking spots at a mall, and several others (this is where it gets tiring at times because there is a distinct political slant to the film which ignores one side of the aisle, even though I don’t disagree with who they are killing because they aren’t good people, it is obviously tainted one way).  They eventually end up deciding that moving to France and just getting away to somewhere that dislikes America as much, seems like a great plan.  However, then Frank finds out that Roxy had lied to him, and she comes from a normal family, but she’s just an teenager who doesn’t like the world.  He leaves her (which I should point out, they aren’t having a creepy relationship, well, it is creepy, but not creepy sexual).  Frank goes off on one last mission which changes their relationship, and everything.

This film has great acting.  Frank, played by Joel Murray, has a Ricky Gervais sort of look about him, but much better acting chops.  He is very depressing and serious person who can’t lighten up, and plays that to a tee.  Roxy, Tara Lynne Barr, is equally up to the challenge, showing off a disturbing glee and hatred throughout the film.  Her performance is what really drives the film, and Frank is intentionally a blah downer character to have against the excited Roxy.  The rest of the characters are really spoofs of various political commentators, shock jock radio hosts, celebrities, and fake celebrities.  There are easy ties through out most of them to people in real life.  They end up being caricatures and aren’t all that greatly acted, but the film is really driven by the two main characters and exploring their dynamics more than any of the side characters.

Bobcat Goldthwait, yes, that is the name, does a good job directing this film and creating a world that is basically the world we live in, in the US, and creating a story that shows a strong duplicity to the characters in many ways.  Visually this film has a crisp professional look.  It doesn’t seem like a big budget film, but the quality of work done in the film is noticeable.  They also use Alice Cooper for some of the songs in the film, and to me that is great as I’m a huge Alice Cooper fan.

What works well in this film is the duplicity of the characters, they don’t like the heroes and anti-heroes as portrayed by the media and television, but are worried when they don’t hear anything about what they’ve done on the television.  They crave the fame in some ways, or at least Roxy does, and Frank ends up going that way slowly throughout the film. This duplicity builds the film which could be seen as a highly anti-American, which I don’t know that it is, it is just highly anti-American culture/climate of what matters in news/television, etc. and takes away from the political slant because the two main characters probably would lean one ways, but are themselves what they don’t like.  It is extremely dark, so I’ll warn people watching it about that and there is a fair amount of violence, but it is a well crafted film.

Critical Grade: B

Entertainment Grade: A

Overall Grade: B+


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: