God Bless America: A Blood-Soaked Satire for the Whole Family
For a movie that opens by skeet-shooting a baby, writer-director Bobcat Goldthwait's God Bless America proves surprisingly smart, funny, and satisfying, if in a reprehensibly sick sort of way.
Divorced, depressed, suffering from migraines, and tormented by the boorish, loud, daily degradations of reality TV and reality in general, Frank (sympathetically played by Bill Murray's younger brother Joel) is at the end of his tether. After losing his dead-end job and learning he has a brain tumor, a despondent Frank is about to eat his own gun when he is suddenly inspired to make a final parting gesture: the murder of a particularly obnoxious reality-TV star.
"Awesome!" declares the adorably sociopathic Roxy (18-year-old Tara Lynne Barr) at the sloppy killing of her TV-star classmate. Frank and Roxy soon set out on a cross- country shooting spree, an unlikely Bonnie and Clyde–like duo casually ridding America of its many rude, insufferable assholes.
Of course, the joke is on the audience. Goldthwait has us rooting for serial killers who take aim at exactly the kind of debased culture that produces an audience capable of rooting for serial killers. "Why have a civilization if we're no longer interested in being civilized?" Frank asks rhetorically.
It's gratuitously bloody, sure, and a strong opening 30 minutes eventually meanders into a somewhat repetitive road flick, but there's an undeniable vicarious pleasure in watching Frank and Roxy dispatch with an equal degree of detached irony both a Glenn Beck–ish hate-talker and the dick who insists on taking up two spots in a crowded parking lot. (Fair warning: I screened God Bless America before our recent spate of senseless gun violence. So given current events, no doubt some Seattle moviegoers will find it neither funny nor cathartic.)