GOD BLESS AMERICA Review

Like any interesting theory put to paper, "God Bless America" has a very specific agenda and a very precise point to make. It offers some very intriguing food for thought, but in the end leaves us more hungry than satisfied. This is a film that centers around the current society and why, for two specific people, it has gone down the drain. While the main mission of our protagonist (or maybe antagonist, I don't know) is to actually understand why people have become so mean and dim witted instead turns into a mission of someone unafraid of killing a person if they get in his way. It is a small qualm to make with a movie production, but if I am going along with the point the film is supposedly trying to make then it is in fact not a small qualm at all. Every life is to be cherished and every life is meaningful even if only meaningful to the person that possesses it. It should still be considered and therefore not shot down without consideration of the repercussions putting that bullet in them might have. I certainly don't pretend to know everything about anything and I can understand why director Bobcat Goldthwait has become fed up with society as it is today. I can understand why it is hard to take today's youth seriously as I myself dislike most of the people my age and even more so the generation that is coming out of high school now and thinks that Flo-Rida wrote "Right Round" and did it without sampling Dead or Alive's 1985 hit. It is frustrating, and in many ways sad. The thing about "God Bless America" the movie though    is while it is funny to see such ridiculous fantasies taken out on the morally barren it ends up not feeling as gratifying as director Goldthwait might have imagined it to be.

Frank (Joel Murray) teaches Roxy (Tara Lynne Barr) how
to handle a gun...
The early scenes in the film are full of crackle and spirit and truly allow what is Goldthwait's thesis in this film of idea and thoughts to be formed. As average everyman Frank, Mad Men's Joel Murray plays it cool and evokes a good amount of empathy from the audience early on. We completely understand his point of view and we support it. We completely get it. It is as if he is perfectly addressing every issue we have with the pop culture society that seems to have taken over. The culture that rewards people for being famous for the sake of being famous rather than being famous because they actually possess a praise-worthy talent. Throughout, I like Frank, he is a stand up guy that doesn't mean anyone any harm, but when he learns he is going to die of a brain tumor and gets fired from his cubical job on the same day well, needless to say, he snaps. The story sets this up perfectly. Frank is given plenty of targets in the form of his neighbors who don't practice common courtesy to those spoiled brats on My Sweet 16-type shows that cry because their parents buy them the wrong car. Sure, they may be easy targets, but this is nothing anyone sitting at home scrolling through channels and realizing there is nothing on better than that garbage hasn't fantasized about. In executing the selfish and ignorant child that is the product of her parents trying to be more friend than teacher, Frank crosses paths with the young, but equally disgusted Roxy (Tara Lynne Barr).

then they pick on those that add to the deterioration of society...
There is literally (and they would hate me for even using that word) no one who is safe from the wrath of Frank and Roxy when they get into their discussions about what kind of people deserve to die. The thing about being an audience member when it comes to these moments is that although you may agree with their common goal here, there will be mentions of things they despise that you probably have a fondness for. I don't mind watching televised talent shows (Are there too many? Yes. Do they rarely produce a real, all around talent? True. Do they pick on the weak and their false aspirations to get higher ratings? Absolutely.) I am as guilty as anyone for laughing at William Hung and it is evident Goldthwait has a real problem with that. I enjoyed "Juno" as well as Diablo Cody's writing. Clearly Goldthwait didn't. In regard to Cody and her movie the joke that Frank makes is funny, I'll give him that, but it is also a perfect example of how the gen x generation has labeled those that have come after. It paints the writer into a corner though because it points the finger right back at itself. For, Cody was not trying to validate teen pregnancy in her movie but was instead shining light on a real, human situation. Goldthwait takes something he seems to think he understands (another reason to dislike the younger generation) and twists it in a way that validates his point.The truth is that teen pregnancy happens, (is that a result of poor parenting? Certainly, but that also points the finger at Goldthwait's fellow generation.) but that movie wasn't glorifying it, in fact it was simply showing compassion for those unfortunate enough to not be educated enough to not get themselves into that situation. There will be arguments made that the character clearly chose this for herself, but one only take a look at her surroundings to see why she might have thought it wasn't such a bad idea. This is not an essay in defense of the movie "Juno" though. This has simply been used as an example to point out that while "God Bless America" gets a lot of things right and does, for the most part, have good intentions it is far to narcissistic to come out wearing a medal of honor for honorable work.

...and then they shoot some more people.
Despite the previous paragraph I actually enjoyed the majority of the film and was only mildly disappointed that the writer in Goldthwait seemed to run out of steam about half way through the movie. From that point on, instead of continuing to be an analyzation of our country's current climate we desolve into a standard action film that has our two characters gunning everyone in site down. Not to mention the director steadily sexualizes Roxy more and more as the film goes on and cannot resist the storyline of having Frank have to fight off his urges in making Roxy more than just a friend. In the beginning, Frank is a guy so stable, so sure of who he is and how he should and more importantly wants to act. By the end, and rightfully so after going through many injustice's, Frank is frazzled and on edge. We understand why he is beginning to think the way he is, but when you set up characters who are so overly critical of everything it is hard not to allow them to fall into those same, stereotypical traps. I hoped, after such a great opening that Frank would live to be a three dimensional character that truly came to symbolize his stance on society. In many ways he does end up doing this, unfortunately he does it in a way that is reminiscent of every revenge fantasy we have seen before. What this really comes down to is the fact that every generation will have its folks it's ashamed of and will always look down on the newer ones because they are no longer able to make those memories over or act irresponsible as they see them doing. They will look down upon them in many ways in jealousy, but nonetheless, they will pick out all the negatives to make themselves feel better. It has been going on for generations and will no doubt continue to be the same way. This film is just one man taking those frustrations to a whole other level. Now in limited release or on VOD.