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The Cinematic Katzenjammer: April 18: God Bless America


April 18: God Bless America

"On a mission to rid society of its most repellent citizens, terminally ill Frank makes an unlikely accomplice in 16-year-old Roxy."

   God Bless America is an extremely dark comedy about one man becoming so sick with the stupidity of a rude America, especially in the media, that he decides to do something about it. The movie takes many fantasies some of us have (hurting someone talking in the theater, someone who double parks, right wing conservative freaks), and takes it to an entirely different level. Joel Murray (yes, Bill Murray's brother) plays Frank, the man with the gun who decides to "clean up" the country a bit after he's fired from his job and diagnosed with a brain tumor. He's joined by Roxy (played by Tara Lynne Barr), a teenage girl full of hate and curiosity, and the two travel the country deciding who to off next.

It's like if Bonnie and Clyde were a middle aged man and a Christian schoolgirl with a temper. 

   God Bless America is written and directed by Bobcat Goldthwait, who also made the amazing and underrated World's Greatest Dad with Robin Williams. The film follows the similar pattern of WGD, as it crosses so many lines and delves into such perverse territory that you can't help but wonder how it got made. However, the movie is not simply a montage of a crazy man shooting a bunch of people because he's pissed off. Frank's character is very developed and you can understand why he's doing what he does. God Bless America also has terrific dialogue, including a great monologue from Frank explaining how mean everyone has become and describing the downward spiral of the American "celebrity".

The film's main targets are glorious spoofs of MTV shows, Glen Beck, TMZ, and American Idol

   Joel Murray is terrific as Frank. He's likable even when he's doing what he's doing, and you really do root for him. There are always times where we have a little daydream about punching an asshole on the road or at work, and seeing Frank act on all those thoughts is satisfying. Tara Lynne Barr steals the show as Roxy and her energy and charisma make you fall in love with her. She's the youthful spirit that accompanies Frank, and she's willing to cross the line even further when Frank cannot. She saves him from committing suicide and it's her idea to roam the country, Natural Born Killers style. Keep in mind, the violence is not very graphic, nor a large focus of God Bless America. Each murder is done in a playful, over-the-top, humorous kind of way (if that's even possible) and the reasoning behind what Frank and Roxy are doing, not the violence, is the driving factor of the film. Plus, you can tell the film had a small budget because the violence effects are just sub-par. 

They clearly kill with style. 

   Overall, I would highly recommend God Bless America. It is a film you'll either love or hate, and it will certainly be offensive to many people. The dark humor is black as night and not for everyone, but I still ask you give the film a chance. With a plot that could have gone completely off-the-rails insane, God Bless America stands grounded. In a weird way, it has some heart even with such a  controversial subject matter. It's hilarious, even laugh out loud funny at times, and really gets you thinking about how far gone a lot of our "entertainment" is. It's a great example of nitpicking the American culture and does so much a handful of us have probably thought about late at night, in the far corners of our minds. 

The Good:
Joel Murray and his every-day-man-out-of-his-luck performance
The Better:
Tara Lynne Barr as Roxy and looking forward to seeing where her career will take her next
The Best:
laughing at moments you shouldn't, while wondering to yourself if you would be one of the people on Frank and Roxy's hit-list (it's a self reflecting kind of thing)

Overall: 8.9/10

Best Quote:
Frank: I wish I was a super-genius inventor and could come up with a way to make a telephone into an explosive device that was triggered by the American Superstarz voting number. The battery could explode and leave a mark on the face, so I could know who to avoid talking to before they even talked.


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