Published Sep 23, 2011Bobcat Goldthwait has seen the best minds of his generation destroyed by madness, reality TV and the cruelty of modern popular culture. God Bless America is his personal howl against everything that drives him crazy and turns ordinary, decent people into raging assholes.
God Bless America is an often hilarious, if not very subtle, satire about a man named Frank (Joel Murray), who loses his job and, instead of picking off random McDonald's patrons, decides to right the world's wrongs by eradicating the most annoying celebrities.
What begins as an act of Darwinian self-actualization, with Frank attempting to eliminate the ridiculously pampered bitch-queen teenage star of a reality show, turns into a cross-country murder spree when Frank is joined by a teenage runaway named Roxy (Tara Lynne Barr), as the two become self-appointed culture warriors on their way to eradicating the audience of the season finale of ersatz-American Idol knock-off American Superstars.
God Bless America may be wildly uneven, and it tries a little too hard to pull off the same kind of cultural satire that South Park does several times a year with ease, but it also fills an expressive need to address the modern feeling of being buried in cultural faeces.
The film is particularly funny early on when Frank flips through endless channels of televised garbage, which Goldthwait parodies with razor-sharp accuracy, yet as the film advances, it feels largely like a stand-up comedy rant about how piss-poor modern American culture is. It obviously portrays Frank as an anti-hero, but never goes so far as to really point on the flaws in his logic.
Frank rants about how much he hates everything, but never seeks out alternatives, choosing instead to ingest what he's force-fed. He's as bad as the slobs he rails against ― the only difference is that he complains about it while everyone else just takes it their eye and ear holes. Moreover, there's an icky classism to the film, as Frank and Roxy's ideological targets are largely the unwitting masses rather than the truly evil minds behind the creation of the junk they consume. They move from eradicating junk culture to killing people because they violate minor social mores.
That said, this movie is meant to be entirely absurd, sacrificing logic for parody, which is particularly egregiously in the way Frank and Roxy are reunited in the end, revelling in its absurdity from the moment Frank pulls the trigger on his first victim.
God Bless America may not be the subtlest satire, but it delivers some guilty, snobbish laughs. (Alliance)