REVIEW OF THE FILM GOD BLESS AMERICA
A charming little film about a misanthropic schlub, a jaded girl and their killing spree/road trip. Vaguely reminiscent of the Michael Douglas film Falling Down (one of the best films of the early '90s), the film starts with a sort of heavy-handed commentary on the vacuous idiocy and casual cruelty that passes for contemporary American popular culture. Hyperbole abounds, and Americans are shown to be self-indulgent whiny materialists with inflated senses of esteem and self-entitlement, generally lacking self-awareness. When the middle-aged misanthropic antihero is diagnosed with terminal cancer and then fired from his job selling insurance, he decides to commit suicide, but only after killing the spoiled brat star of a popular reality television series. While committing the act he is observed by a teenaged girl. The girl turns out to be similarly disenchanted with society, confronts him in his hotel room and convinces him not to kill himself, but to instead kill others, those who “truly deserve to die.” The parents of the reality television star are the first to go, rude teens in a movie theater are the second, and it continues from there (sorry, no spoilers here). The film then becomes a sort of Norman Rockwell hybrid of father-daughter bonding movie and Natural Born Killers. That I haven't seen before. It was chancy, it was risky, but it totally works – someone with a spine and balls (at least metaphorically) greenlighted this one.
The cultural commentary features only the obnoxious and the unconscious, and is an exaggerated reflection of only the most commercial of broadcast popular culture. It exists mainly to provide context and rationale for what later transpires, and consumes perhaps fifteen minutes of the film. Targeted are the usual objects: the cult of celebrity, trashy reality television, morning radio programs, the undeserving rich, the overindulged, the unaware and the unappreciative. At least they went for something other than the usual Hollywood knee-jerk corporation bashing.
The film was directed by Bobcat Goldthwait, one of my favorite “edgy” stand-up comedians, and features his flavor of somewhat twisted humor. Veteran character actor Larry Miller, who is usually featured in more traditional comedies, was the only actor I recognized, which means that the cast is largely comprised of relative unknowns. This was intentional: it would be ironic if a film that criticizes celebrities features one or more.
There are several parody sequences within the movie, including: the shooting scene from Oliver Stone's JFK, and a famous scene from Quentin Tarantino's Jackie Brown.
The dialogue between the main characters definitely has some jokes.
“You did a good job (range shooting).”
“I was imagining the targets were the cast of Glee”
“What's wrong with Glee?”
“It stereotypes and homogenizes homosexuals. Plus it ruined Rocky Horror forever.”
More about this film:
Superfluous superficial post-review comment: there are two gorgeous women in this movie - the delicious Melinda Page Hamilton, and the striking Dorie Barton. Both of them also happen to be good actors, so, barring some unfortunate disfigurement or disability, they should continue to be successful thespians for some time.