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film criticism by maryann johanson | since 1997

God Bless America (review)

God Bless America red light Joel Murray Tara Lynne Barr

I’m “biast” (pro): love Bobcat Goldthwaith; totally onboard with his despair at the state of American culture

I’m “biast” (con): none

(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)

So I just spent part of my second Independence Day in London watching Bobcat Goldthwait’s sarcastically dubbed God Bless America on a screener. I figured this was appropriate: I’m an American disillusioned with America and now with some longterm firsthand experience of how other countries do the whole life thing better… and yet I still cannot get behind this tedious soapbox of a movie. Oh, I sympathize with its attitudes: reality TV is a horror (this is true in the U.K., too); the U.S. is being misled by professional right-wing blowhards; crudity and violence rule American infotainment; general rudeness, selfishness, and even outright sociopathy has become a way of life. Our “hero” Frank (Joel Murray: Mad Men) laments that “no one has any shame anymore, and we’re supposed to celebrate it,” which I would be happy to wear on a T-shirt every day. But Goldthwait (World’s Greatest Dad) — as writer and director — doesn’t know what to do with this except rage incoherently and ineffectively at the state of the world. See, Frank — with his sidekick, teen Roxy (Tara Lynne Barr) — hauls ass on a demented road trip around America shooting reality-TV queens and preachers who yell “God hates fags” and assholes who park across two spaces at the mall, his rampage set off by a (possibly) unfair firing from his cubicle-farm job and a diagnosis of terminal brain cancer. But… then what? What purpose does his rampage serve? How does this make the world any better? I am so on Goldthwait’s side, but he doesn’t have any answers. I’d love to hear it if he did. What does the world look like beyond the hellish end-of-empire American apocalypse? Goldthwait has no idea. And so God Bless America ends up having nothing to say except “Wah!!”

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God Bless America (2012)
US/Can release: May 11 2012
UK/Ire release: Jul 4 2012

Flick Filosopher Real Rating: rated W for way too much wah and way too little way out
MPAA: rated R for strong violence and language including some sexual sequences
BBFC: rated 15 (contains strong violence and language, once very strong)

viewed at home on a small screen

official site | IMDb | trailer
more reviews: Movie Review Query Engine | Rotten Tomatoes

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