Overlooked Film of the Week-#12
God Bless America
As much as I love my country, there are a couple of pieces of our culture I could live without. Certain things many of my country men find entertaining, likable or needed I find the exact opposite. I sit at night, flabbergasted by certain things that get popular in our nation, things that my country as a whole holds sacred, stuff we could not live without. I also wonder if it is affecting us in a bad way.
Look at Justin Bieber, the Kardashians, the Real Housewives of whatever city, Jersey Shore, Honey BooBoo, Taylor Swift...all the immaturity in that list of pop icons is enough to cause a migraine. Yet we allow all of this to continue, we let these people make millions, we allow their immaturity to flourish. What does it all mean? Have we lost ourselves so much to the point that the lowest common denominator is entertaining? Why is that the DUI of some famous American the top story on the evening news instead of other world issues? Has everything on TV and through the radio made us hollow? It sure seems like it. Does anybody pay attention to how people talk to each other on internet forums? Youtube? In passing out in public? The average American treats the other average American like crap. And for what purpose?
"God Bless America" asks these questions and revs up the answers to create a strange, political, dark comedy. We follow Franklin Murdoch (Joel Murray) who is down on his luck. He is poorly treated by his neighbors, he is fired from his job, he tries to make a relationship with his daughter who would rather play on her Ipod, he is divorced and on top of it all, his doctor tells him he has serious brain tumor and will die very soon. He goes home to drink, and pulls a gun ready to end his life. Then he looks at what he sees on TV and it disgusts him. People mocked on a singing competition, reality girls fighting, religious homo-phobics spreading their filth on the News...sound familiar at all yet? This is what we sit down to watch at night.
Franklin thinks to himself, why should I die when there are hundreds, if not thousands of other assholes who deserve to die? He then decides to use the last few weeks he has left to go on a killing spree. He targets not just the people he sees on TV, but any asshole he can find. People who use their cell phones at the movies, people who take up two parking spaces, the stuck-up vermin who take up space in this great nation soon find bullets in their chests.
Joel Murray is the brother of Bill Murray. And for awhile, like the other three lesser-known Murray brothers, he's been in Bill's shadow for his entire career. But is Joel's performance a tour-de-force. He comes alive and drives this whole movie, making everything count, making everything matter. Its a performance I wish did not get overlooked, because he could have been nominated for an Oscar. One of the first people Franklin kills is a 16-year-old brat who was on a TV show that parodies "My Sweet Sixteen." A girl who witnesses this murder is Roxy (Tara Lynn Barr) and soon enough the duo starts killing together. Barr brings a slick, dark sense of humor to her character, and she is a real discovery here.
The film was written and directed by Bobcat Goldthwait. He's a stand-up comedian and he's also famous for appearing in the Police Academy franchise. He's a really funny guy, and I am surprised by how much is on his mind in this movie. When I wrote about this movie at the end of 2012, I said that "God Bless America is the best movie since Fight Club to call bullshit on our country for all the right reasons." And today, I still stand by that statement.