God Bless America 3/4: a movie review from James Berardinelli

December 6, 2012 by James Berardinelli - Reelviews
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This is an angry movie. When I write angry, I mean angry.

At times, it comes across as a rant against celebrity-obsessed pop culture, reality TV, uncivilized interpersonal interaction, and the sense of entitlement that permeates modern society. Writer/director Bobcat Goldthwait has an ax to grind and, once he’s done grinding it, he uses it to split some skulls. God Bless America is many things – audacious, bitingly satirical, unafraid of venturing into uncomfortable territory – but it is never subtle. It’s also too long by about 15 minutes. The movie has a tendency to repeat itself unnecessarily. And the ending is not as ironic as it could (and should) be.

God Bless America’s best moments come during the first half-hour, as Goldthwait scathingly lampoons TV trends while Frank (Joel Murray, who exudes a nice “everyman” quality), an insomniac, sits in front of his set all night long, his mind deadened by infomercials, reality TV, and a dead-on satire of American Idol. Frank fantasizes about slaughtering the self-absorbed family next door but never gets up the gumption to do so; he’s too nice a guy. The next day at work, he’s informed he is being laid off. He has run afoul of the company’s zero-tolerance sexual harassment policy (he sent flowers to a fellow employee to cheer her up after finding out her home address by accessing her personnel file). That night, while Frank is watching more reality TV, something snaps. He takes his gun, steals his neighbor’s car and goes on a road trip. His goal: locate one of the most loathsome reality TV stars and kill her. Along the way, he is joined by an unlikely partner: 16-year old Roxy (Tara Lynne Barr, looking like the “(school)girl next door”), who is as disdainful of pop culture as Frank. Together, they become spree killers, taking out men and women around the country who “deserve it.”

 

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