Have you ever wanted to shoot someone? You know, like the fit a-hole at the mall that takes up a handicapped parking space. Or the whinny spoiled brats you see on MTV reality programs that break down when their parents don’t buy them the expected luxury vehicle they wanted for their 16th birthday. The idea is not lost on writer/director Bobcat Goldthwait who puts a simple man on a killing spree that is more likely to have audiences siding with the shooter than with the victims.
In God Bless America, we are introduced to Frank (Joel Murray). And Frank is having a bad day. His child doesn’t want to visit him, he just lost his job due to a random act of kindness, he has neighbors with a screaming baby and paper thin walls and his constant migraines have him up all night watching terrible television reality shows including American Superstarz – a take on the Fox hit, American Idol.
All the combined stresses push Frank over the edge and he reaches for stored handgun intent on – at the very least – taking violent action against a 16-year old spoiled brat he witnessed tantruming on reality television. It’s during this first homicidal act that Frank meets Roxy (Tara Lynee Barr), a teenage wholesome looking girl that forms an unlikely relationship with Frank. The two then set out on a Bonnie and Clyde murderous spree across the country, justifying their actions by putting to rest those that most of society would consider repellent human beings.
Goldthwait, who previously directed the very underrated World’s Greatest Dad (2009), is at his politically violent best with God Bless America and pulls from such classic films as Joel Schumacher’s Falling Down and Oliver Stone’s Natural Born Killers. Frank and Roxy have an energetic chemistry together and their hunting of the morally repugnant individuals – everything from Tea Baggers to teenagers that talk and use their cell phones while at the movies - are as applauded even more than we gloriously rooted for William ‘D-Fens’ Foster in 1993’s Falling Down.
And although the body count reaches slasher film levels, Goldthwait keeps both the political commentary and the relationship between the two leads as the focal point of the film and keeps on target a commentary that would raise both eyebrows and tensions if freely discussed at office water coolers. Franks rants (my favorite being, “I wish I was a super-genius inventor and could come up with a way to make a telephone into an explosive device that was triggered by the American Superstarz voting number. The battery could explode and leave a mark on the face, so I could know who to avoid talking to before they even talked.”) are spot on and they cut deeper than an Aaron Sorkin knife of opinionated sarcasm.
To classify God Bless America is as black a comedy as The Little Mermaid is an animated Disney film about a mermaid named Ariel. As a result, God Bless America is polarizing and is hardly the best date film of 2012. It is however a rip rollicking good time and it again makes it cool to live through film characters and root for the bad guys.