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Ten Word or Less Review: Watching bigots and morons be killed should be more fun.

America has become a rancid cesspool of cultural deprived morons.  A sea of vast ignorance, rampant arrogance and out of control rudeness dominates our landscape. Millions of people tune in to watch crass bottom feeders humiliate themselves and others around them under the guise of entertainment.  Everyone feels entitled to their 15 minutes of unwarranted fame when all they really deserve is a slap to the face and 4 years of forced internment in higher education.  All this cultural poison destroys the souls and warps the values of those who indulge in it and the corrupted hacks who sling this trash should suffer death at the end of a firearm, a sharp object or both.  Kill Simon Calwell.  Kill reality TV brats.  Kill people who text in movies at your expense.  If any of this rant rings true to you then Bobcat Goldthwait’s God Bless America may be a movie for you, but be warned.  Bobcat has the heart of a saddened, preaching malcontent, but is a filmmaker of extremely limited vision and skill.  He has his finger on the pulse of a disgusted majority who cringe at the sight of American Idol, but little more than the ability of B level filmmaker with no money to make his point.

Frank (Joel Murray) is an intelligent but downtrodden guy.  Plagued by migraines which render him an insomniac, Frank stays up and watches the American value system erode right in front of him on his television.  He sits in a state of mortification and depression as classless Jersey scum parade across TV along side warbling crooners looking for instant fame, all while ill-tempered political pundits shout down their guest in a hail of unjustified belligerence.  All the hostility, aggression and contempt for fellow people leads Frank to ask, ‘What’s the point of civilization if no one is going to be civilized?’  Once Frank gets told that he’s going to die of a massive brain tumor, all bets are off.  Frank decides it would be better to make a dent in societies problem than off himself.  He blows away a spoiled TV celebrity and instantly gains the admiration of Roxy (Tara Barr), a plucky teen just as sick of the rancid world as Frank.  She joins his cause and the two set out on a killing spree to rid America of the toxic snobbery which has infected it down to the core.

For a movie rooted squarely on the shoulders of cultural disappointment and a desire to right wrongs with pure, unhinged, righteous vengeance, God Bless America feels sadly prosaic and poorly paced.  Goldthwait can’t give his anger infused creation any momentum, sense of urgency and can only pedantically express his clearly palpable sense of outrage.  Put more simply, it’s an angry movie that isn’t as interesting as it thinks it is, nor does it convincingly express its anger.  Joel Murray’s doe eyed, even tempered and unflappable lead performance embodies a lot of this.  I think Goldthwait wanted to avoid surface level cartoonishness which seems wise, but the track he takes instead leaves thing with no sense of pressure or importance.  Frank seems as emotionally invested in ridding the world of those he loathes as he would buying a pair of new shoes or paying his rent.

Goldthwait is further undercut by a lack of budget, scope or ambitious writing.  God Bless feels as if it takes place in a world devoid of realistic details or people.  Frank and Roxy kill with impunity and law officials are rarely ever seen or called upon.  The movie winds up being less like kindred ancestor Taxi Driver and more a psuedo twin to last years disappointing Rainn Wilson vehicle Super. That too was a movie about a lone man gone off his nut trying to single handedly right societies wrongs, but was ultimately undone by the same kind of under cooked direction and no budget execution.  God Bless has no interest in the inherent irony of its story either.  The tale of a smart man having to go savage to deal with what he sees as savagery doesn’t really cross anyone’s mind.  Frank judges everyone, but no one ever judges Frank.  In the film he is right by default and the argument doesn’t go past this.  And as shock oriented as things should be the story never throw us for any genuine loops.  Goldthwait takes aim at his easy targets, fires his volley and feels that’s all that is necessary.  It’s a screenplay perhaps not written with haste, but with a lot of possibilities ignored.

It bums me out that twice in one day I’ve had to pick apart ambitious, rule breaking movies.  God Bless America takes rightful aim at the swill being passed off as culture and justifiably calls bullshit on all of it.  It’s a movie that wants people to be better, try harder, and to strive for something more than a bargain basement mentality, but it seems unlikely that very many people will want to wade through the experience of watching it.  How can a movie with only marginal value or dramatic impact possibly get its message across to people who thrill at the idea of watching Snooki do dumb shit every night?


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