TIFF Review: God Bless America (2012)
This movie is awful, and if you disagree I’ll kill you.
At least, that’s what the new film “God Bless America” seems to advocate. Directed by comedian Bobcat Goldthwait, the plot follows a middle-aged, divorced sadsack named Frank (Joel Murray) who loses his job and finds out he has a brain tumor on the same day. That night while channel surfing he comes across an MTV-esque reality show about a teenage girl named Chloe who is so spoiled and superficial he concludes she deserves to die. What follows is a “Bonnie and Clyde”-style dramedy that finds him teaming up with a young girl named Roxy (Tara Lynne Barr) on a mission to violently rid the world of… well, anyone they think is somehow damaging the culture.
Compared to Goldthwait’s last effort, the nuanced and provocative “World’s Greatest Dad,” “God Bless America” is like a sledgehammer to the face. Frank and Roxy have no characterization beyond their tastes in media and spend most of their time giving stilted monologues about societal decay while never allowing room for disagreement. I imagine that when Tea Party supporters talk about how “liberals” are ruining America, this is the type of condescending mindset they are referring to. I never thought I would be rushing to defend the likes of American Idol, Bill O’Reilly and Fred Phelps, but that’s exactly the position I find myself in after viewing the film, and I hate it for that.
The hypocrisy is thick enough to choke on – Frank and Roxy criticize society for preying on the weak yet they’re the ones literally hunting the culturally handicapped – and any intended satire is lost during the rampage. “America has become a cruel and vicious place in which the most vile behavior is celebrated,” Goldthwait writes, while encouraging the audience to cheer at his gleeful execution of society’s degenerates. One wonders how he’d feel if those Britney Spears-singin’, “Jersey Shore”-watchin’, high-fivin’ ignoramuses decided to turn their crosshairs on his elitist ass.