Film Review – God Bless America (2011)

God Bless America poster

God Bless America

Directed by Bobcat Goldthwait

Starring Joel Murray, Tara Lynne Barr, Mackenzie Brook Smith

Review by Jordan

Its very hard to say whether or not God Bless America is a good film. Directed by a comedian, Robert “Bobcat” Goldthwait, it wears the shell of a subversive comedy but with themes garnering such hatred at the lowering standards of American entertainment culture ultimately exists as a far-reaching and slightly disappointing drama. It commences with a sting, conjurers laughs as it progresses and ends with a climax intended to be the culmination of all that has gone before but unfortunately fizzles… though perhaps this is what Bobcat intended, and it served us right for anticipating an explicit bloodbath.

Personally, I don’t think this movie is that smart.

A lot of my favorite films are those that through a broken anti-hero aren’t afraid to shout their anger at the shameful happenings in a civilized world; Falling Down (1993), Super (2010) and Taxi Driver (1976) to name a few. God Bless America, for all its intentions, cannot be mentioned with these above gut-punches, and I believe is in danger of not having the notoriety it aspires to. I wanted very much to love it, and believe me when I say I absolutely did love a number of the cracking monologues (particularly one very early in the piece), but Frank is no D-Fens, and his sidekick Roxy quickly becomes quite grinding.

I realize that I am yet to explain the plot, this is because I do not feel the need to; as soon as one sees the title coupled with the image of a middle age man and teenage girl wielding handguns in front of the Stars and Stripes they should be able to join the dots… I will say that Frank has a particular disdain for American Idol type singing competitions though, and that he just wants everyone to be nice to each other; It’s OK to have political opinions and share them with millions, but just be nice. I feel God Bless America could have been a cracking, powerful short film, in fact a single 15 minute Frank tirade on the lowering standards of everyday conversation could of become a phenomenon, but as it stands the pacing issues over a 100 minute running time test the patience an unfortunate amount. 100 minutes isn’t exactly a long running time either.

I can see why a lot of people might love this film, as I can also see why some would find it a complete disappointment. Me? I’m sitting on the fence, with my legs perhaps dangling towards giving it another shot.

3 failed car explosions out of 5

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7 responses to “Film Review – God Bless America (2011)

  1. I really liked it. You’re right that it’s not nearly as visceral as, say, “Falling Down”, but it’s not meant to be. It’s supposed to be lighter fare delivered with a softer touch. Had the film maintained the initial rage, it wouldn’t have worked. Sticking with the “Falling Down” comparison, Michael Douglas raged against the world for one day and was spent. Here, this was a guy who had the same built up frustration but neither the will nor the strength to carry out a prolonged explosion…so he settled on a slow burn.

    • Interesting point you raise there, and it does give me a new insight into the character I must say. Perhaps after the brilliant opening moments I was hoping for a different type of film than what transpired. I do think this would make for an intriguing double-bill with the similar-in-structure Super.
      Jordan

  2. I enjoyed ‘God Bless America’ for the most part but like yourself I ended up ‘on the fence’ – at the outset it seemed like it might have been aiming for some smart observations and witty satire but was ultimately cheapened by a little by the (admittedly hilarious at times) ensuing wave of blood (I suppose that may have been the point?).

    All in all an okay watch if you have a beer handy…

    • Yeah I also think it was trying to make a point, with the problem being it just wasn’t entertaining enough the whole way through to really ram it home. Maybe the acting across the board could’ve been of a higher calibre to really sell the characters as well.
      Jordan

  3. This movie was not only awful, it has an obvious agenda to sway public opinion on gun control and make everyone afraid of guns (namely handguns and AK47’s) and make it seem normal, even heroic, to kill people they consider to be “bad people” and even feel “good” about it. Not only is it sick and sadistic, it also tries to make the guy seem like he’s somehow a good guy, even moral. It’s part of an all too familiar pattern we are seeing today of media feeding disgusting violence down the publics throats, while working hard to change the mass perception of “terrorists” to include the average everyday person you see in your neighborhood, and making it seem like there are all kinds of crazy people running around with guns, when the truth is 90% of all gun violence is government initiated or part of a government sponsored drill: Yet the push is only to make it harder for citizens to get guns, not to end the government initiated drills/violence/movies/media stories which promote violence.

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