SXSW FILM 2012
By Don Simpson | March 14, 2012
Director: Bobcat Goldthwait
Writer: Bobcat Goldthwait
Starring: Joel Murray, Tara Lynne Barr, Mackenzie Brooke Smith, Melinda Page Hamilton, Rich McDonald, Guerrin Gardner
Writer-director Bobcat Goldthwait is certainly not afraid of pissing people off, and his cinematic output thus far plays as a testament to him not giving a flying fuck about what his haters think. World’s Greatest Dad, Sleeping Dogs Lie and Shakes the Clown are darker and more demented than most comedies would ever be willing to go, and God Bless America is certainly no different. Sure the film is a flagrant fuck you to the conservative agenda in the United States, but God Bless America also functions as an extremely critical analysis of popular culture. ADHD and Coprolalia tend to run amok in Goldthwait’s screenplays (I do not mean that in a bad way); his dialogue seems to represent an exact regurgitation of his wildest thoughts and opinions, rather than allowing his ideas and words to be processed through a “political correctness” filter first. God Bless America is sure to offend everyone, some more frequently and aggressively than others; but we should all be thankful that Goldthwait utilizes filmmaking as a vehicle to express his anger and frustrations, because otherwise the plot of God Bless America could have very easily been yet another real life example of an entertainer gone bat-shit crazy.
I have no doubt that the “Christian Right” will claim that God Bless America is just another crackpot left-wing fantasy flick in which a liberal filmmaker uses the cinematic medium to unleash his hatred for Conservatives…and America. Yes, indeed, they will definitely accuse Goldthwait of being un-American; heck, they will probably call him a Socialist too. If he is really lucky, maybe they will request to see his original birth certificate. But Goldthwait does not give a furry rat’s ass what the naysayers think about him. He will continue to make films on his terms; no ifs, ands or buts about it. What’s more American than that?
Frank (Joel Murray) is the primary vehicle for Goldthwait’s unhinged, socio-political diatribe. Once he is let go from his job, Frank’s hyper-violent fantasies begin to manifest themselves in reality. Soon a teenage girl — Roxy (Tara Lynne Barr) — latches onto Frank, sensing a special kinship in their opinions. Like Bonny and Clyde, Holly and Kit, and Mallory and Mickey before them, Roxy and Frank fashion themselves into cinematic anti-heroes. Their actions — at least in their own warped minds — are for the greater good; for the betterment of their country.
Are Roxy and Frank any better than their targets? What is worse: brainwashing and manipulation or murder? As much as I agree with Roxy and Frank’s critique of the United States, what gives them the right to be judge, jury and executioners? Yes, this is a fantasy flick, so we must not take it too seriously. God Bless America is meant to express the frustrations and desires that so many of us “liberals” and “intellectuals” are feeling nowadays; it is also a wake-up call, not to go on killing sprees but to start righting these wrongs. How? Damned if I know! But as we seem to be careening in hyper-drive towards a state of Idiocracy, we need to figure out a way to turn this ship around!