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  God Bless America That's Your Answer To Everything
Year: 2012
Director: Bobcat Goldthwait
Stars: Joel Murray, Tara Lynne Barr, Melinda Page Hamilton, Mackenzie Brook Smith, Rich McDonald, Maddie Hasson, Larry Miller, Dorie Barton, Travis Wester, Lauren Benz Phillips, Aris Alvarado, Romeo Brown, Sandra Vergara, Jamie Harris, Geoff Pierson, Tom Kenny
Genre: Comedy, DramaBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Frank (Joel Murray) is not having a great time of it these days. He is stuck in a menial office job with no respect and no prospects, his neighbours are so unthinking that they make his home life hell with their constant noise, he suffers frequent migraines and insomnia, and when he turns on the television or radio for a respite from all this aggravation, there's nothing but mean minded, reactionary and cruel people spewing their hate which passes for entertainment in reality TV, opinion and talent shows, getting richly rewarded for this putrid vileness and preying on the vulnerable. Then things begin to get worse for Frank, and he sees only one solution...

God Bless America was a film which tried to come along at the right time, but ended up arriving at precisely the wrong time. Intended by its writer and director Bobcat Goldthwait as a wake up call to the American media which was in his view breeding discontent, this worm that turned tale proved problematic not simply for the rabid right wingers it satirised, but for the liberals who might have responded to his message making, and that was down to the methods Frank used to attain his peace of mind in a world gone mad with bad manners, bad tempers and basic bad behaviour. He doesn't write to his political representative in the strongest possible terms, he turns to murder.

We were evidently being asked to laugh with and sympathise with a spree killer, on the surface at least, and if you couldn't pick out the ironies laced into the script it was all too easy to take this at face value, which given there were at least two high profile mass shootings, and a collection of chillingly regularly timed other gun crimes which contributed to the sense that America had gone gun crazy occuring in the months after this was released, it wasn't really the sort of send-up that the majority of audiences were going to respond to, no matter what their politics were. It's one thing for jokes to strike too close to home, but it's another to tell you that if you were not going to play nice then you deserved to die, especially when Frank seems to build on his grudges the further this progressed.

You might observe God Bless America had its thunder stolen by a film from the previous year in Super, though as that was never more than a cult success, and a small one at that, this seemed unlikely. What they did have in common was that Frank's self-styled vigilante against the nasty had a sidekick, and he picks up a teenage schoolgirl called Roxy (Tara Lynne Barr), or rather she latches herself onto him when she witnesses him taking his revenge on society by shooting a bratty teen reality TV star. Roxy follows him to his motel room and persuades him not to end it all - he wants suicide because he has been told by his doctor he has a terminal brain tumour - for the reason that he'll look like a creepy stalker rather than someone with a serious point to make.

Besides, there are so many other TV celebs they hate they can really go to town punishing them, and not only those offenders of decency on the box, as such miscreants as those who talk through films in the cinema can be executed as well - you see why this was too close to real life for comfort? It seemed Goldthwait was brimming with so many grievances that the plot ground to a halt more than once for a lecture, and as it went on you might have found yourself identified as a person who the antiheroes wished to execute, which naturally left a big group with gripes. Yet themes were valid in that the dependency in the media for spreading hate as entertainment and accusing anyone complaining of being "politically correct" or worse was not the most healthy manner to conduct popular politics or mass amusements, and blurring between them was dangerous. The irony that Frank becomes twisted by his own hate means maybe we can blame the media, which ignored you can't tar everyone with the same brush. Fitfully funny, then, but extremely provocative. Music by Matt Kollar.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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