Film Review: God Bless America
It is awesome to see a film with no sense of irreverence sometimes. We all have our qualms in regards to the state of modern society. However, to take that current state, poke it with a stick and then riddle it with bullets in the form of an independent film is just plain ballsy.
In God Bless America, Bobcat Goldthwait says what a lot of us think on a regular basis. We, as a polite people, rarely dare share our cynical views with our friends and family for fear of being thought of as a overtly negative, angry person. Goldthwait, in his first feature since World’s Greatest Dad, goes that extra mile on our behalf and addresses modern tragedies such as American Idol/The X Factor (or in the film’s case, American Superstarz), Fox News and MTV reality shows such as My Super Sweet Sixteen and Jersey Shore and then proceeds to not only ridicule and highlight them for what they are (which is complete gutter trash), but visually satisfy his viewers by pumping them full of lead.
It’s an engaging idea that certainly fills you with a sort of initial glee. How often, after all, is a newborn baby blown away with a shotgun in the opening few minutes of any film? And not only that, but for the simple reason that its crying is ‘really annoying’ to the person holding the gun. It’s these sort of sporadic bursts of violence that lay the basis for the film, but unfortunately everything in between is so politically stodgy that after about 40 minutes, the monologue-laden dialogue descends from edgy and honest into unnecessary and preachy. Had it been written by a stoned Aaron Sorkin, perhaps it would have fared better. Who knows? Goldthwait’s over-obvious writing style though, delivered by two very average leads (in the form of Mad Men’s Joel Murray and The Disney Channel’s Tara Lynne Barr) means that for all the delightful, angry, poignant ideas the script has going for it, it can never quite hit the mark that the narrative content deserves.
The idea of a terminally-ill, socially enraged office worker and a wayward teen hitting the road together a la Bonnie and Clyde and proceeding to off everyone from spoilt teens to Fox News anchors to American Idol judges is memorable one that deserves some sort of credit. We’ve all watched television and at one time or another thought, ‘My God, just someone put them out of their misery’. Well, this film does exactly that, and is strangely satisfying in the process. The downside is that it is a remarkably amateur effort in terms of technicality and dramatic delivery. Worth watching for its guiltily fun scenes of gratuitous violence, but not much else, God Bless America is the film you’ve been longing for if you are physically ill when you see a child weep when their father, on their birthday, presents them with a Lexus instead of an Escalade.