God Bless America
4/5 MUST must see SEE
dir-scr Bobcat Goldthwait
prd Jeff Culotta, Sarah de Sa Rego, Richard Kelly, Sean McKittrick
with Joel Murray, Tara Lynne Barr, Melinda Page Hamilton, Rich McDonald, Mackenzie Brooke Smith, Regan Burns, Maddie Hasson, Aris Alvarado, Dan Spencer, Travis Wester, Mo Gaffney, Larry Miller
release US 11.May.12, UK 4.Jul.12
11/US Darko 1h40
God Bless America
Must-see TV: Murray and Barr

goldthwait gaffney miller
Edinburgh film fest
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
God Bless America After World's Greatest Dad, Goldthwait is back with another pitch-black comedy that's both hilarious and deeply disturbing. Like Kevin Smith's blistering Red State, this film scythes through the mindless degradation of the American media.

Frank (Murray) is fed up with idiotic people who are obsessed with dehumanising TV shows and pundits who spout vile "news" opinions. And he finally snaps when his estranged daughter (Smith), who lives with his ex-wife (Hamilton), mimics the spoiled-brat behaviour of monster reality-TV teen Chloe (Hasson). In a suicidal rage, he hunts down and kills Chloe. Then a teen witness, Roxy (Barr), talks him into continuing the spree. The problem is that there are too many deserving targets out there.

The film opens with a litany of obnoxious American television and radio, evidence of a toxic society filled with hollow sloganeering and meaningless aspirations. Why does no one realise that laughing at someone who's weak is unhealthy? But the "Oh no you didn't say that!" generation isn't interested in the truth, they just want to see someone humiliated. And Frank can't take it, leading to wish-fulfilment violence against, for example, rude people who callously disrupt an arthouse movie.

Hilariously, Frank and Roxy's victims are so universally hated that no one minds. And their spree sells even more newspapers if made-up enemies like "Obama death squads" can be blamed. Within this exaggerated set-up, the cast give raw, honest performances. As the carnage escalates, the film gets deeper into the issues it raises while pushing the characters into increasingly dark corners. This allows Goldthwait and his cast to explore some enormous issues in what seem like throwaway moments.

The jaggedly intelligent script bristles with humour that's far more truthful and honest than we ever see in American films or TV. Goldthwait plays with and knowingly lays bare the language of pop culture, which makes the film both uncomfortable and seemingly offensive. Most of Frank's speeches are ranting diatribes, but there isn't a single comment that's off the mark. And Roxy has a few pointed gems of her own. But most intriguingly, while Goldthwait's politics apparently lean left, this is a lacerating critique of people who lie, hate and fear-monger, whatever their political ideology.

cert 15 themes, language, strong violence 15.May.12

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© 2012 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall