GOD BLESS AMERICA
MOVIE: **** (out of 5)
BLU-RAY EXPERIENCE: **** (out of 5)
BY KEVIN CARR
Have you ever watched television, surfed the internet of just heard the inane water cooler discussions at work and wonder how our culture can be obsessed with such awful people? I’m not saying that you’d want to take a shotgun to the cast of “Jersey Shore” (or maybe you would… who knows?). However, the world’s obsession with the dregs of celebrity can be mind-numbing.
Comedian-turned-director Bobcat Goldthwait has had plenty of these feelings, and his attempt at catharsis resulted in the potentially offensive but sharp-witted film “God Bless America.”
The movie focuses on Frank (Joel Murray), a middle-aged man whose life is falling apart around him. With an estranged daughter from a failed marriage, his life is in shambles. He lives next to wildly inconsiderate neighbors, he’s been fired from his job and he just learned he has an inoperable brain tumor. Soon, he snaps and goes on a killing spree with victims that just are not nice people. From prima donna reality stars to assholes in a movie theater, Frank serves out a strange form of justice. He’s joined on the lam by a teenage girl who also has an axe to grind with the world.
The biggest hurdle that “God Bless America” has to overcome with anyone seeing it is the somewhat distasteful nature of its protagonist. Our uptight society makes us want to reject him and this film because it’s hard to justify shooting someone in cold blood because they didn’t turn off her cell phone in a movie. However, “God Bless America” is not meant to be taken that seriously.
Instead, “God Bless America” is a modern-day parable. It does not seek to be offensive. In fact, it’s got real heart behind it, and it challenges the overall Hollywood image that it’s okay to kill bad guys but not not-nice guys.
There are some moments of spot-on biting satire in this film, and lots of finger-pointing at the devolution of our culture. It’s not always easy to watch, but it’s got a lot to say. Just be prepared to have your worldview challenged.
The Blu-ray comes with a nice slate of special features to compliment this excellent film. Bobcat Goldthwait, Joel Murray and Tara Lynn Barr do a commentary track, and they also are featured in extended interview segments. Other standard features include the theatrical trailer, deleted and extended scenes, outtakes and a music video. “Behind the Scenes: Killing with Kindness” gives a solid look at the making of the film, and there’s another featurette from HDNet called “A Look at God Bless America,” which covers similar ground but is still worth checking out.