God Bless America Movie Review: Bobcat Goldthwait's Golden Comedy

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Bobcat Goldthwait may seem like the most unlikely of sources to create a searing social commentary comedy. But he nails it impeccably in God Bless America.

Joel Murray and Tara Lynne Barr in God Bless America

Joel Murray is Frank. To say he's having a rough patch is a little too mild of a description to capture his world as our film begins. The worst of his issues is he learns he's dying from an untreatable form of cancer.

Meanwhile Goldthwait paints a world much like ours where celebrity and reality TV rule pop culture, the news and daily personal conversations. In fact, Murray is given what we have learned is a three-page monologue in the film’s first act that is an astounding piece of writing and acting alone. Toss in the delight that is the rest of the film, and God Bless America is a cinematic moment to treasure.

One fateful night, after putting up with all he can take from a neighbor who does everything wrong and never believes anything is his fault, Frank steals the guy's car. What else made him snap was witnessing the behavior of the "star" of a My Super Sweet Sixteen-type reality show while his neighbor's obnoxiousness simultaneously reaches a fever pitch. Frank drives to the girl's hometown and parks outside her school. When she gets into her car, Frank approaches and shoots her dead. Witnessing the scene is Roxy (a stellar Tara Lynne Barr). She is missing something in her life and finds an affinity with Frank. In fact, she tracks him down to his hotel and begs him to include her in his mayhem.

When she barges in on him, Frank feels his mission is complete and is ready to commit suicide. Roxy convinces him that the murder of the reality TV brat is simply the beginning of cleaning up the world, as the tagline says, “One jerk at a time.”

The film reminds us in some ways of the Michael Douglas-starring Falling Down. Whereas Douglas’ William had his job taken from him and he feels more motivated by vengeance than righteousness, Frank and Roxy’s killing spree is -- in their minds -- a mission of mercy. The film works impeccably well in that manner. That is thanks to the wickedly sharp writing of Goldthwait.

It seems that it would be difficult to find an affinity for these two as they murder their way through the U.S. But, through the screenwriter’s storytelling, we are compelled to follow their journey and even -- dare we say it -- cheer them on. One of the reasons that happens is the parallel stories of Frank and Roxy. She is clearly missing a father figure and as established in the first act, Frank is hardly allowed to see his own daughter. They forge a bond over invoking social justice and find someone in the other that fills an emotional gap.

Above all else in this brilliant escapade of a film, Murray shines as a leading man. After a career of supporting roles and years of comedic training, he busts out as Frank. And Barr is a revelation as Roxy. Who else but Murray and Barr could make characters that spend much of the film extolling their brand of justice as bodies pile up in their wake so adorably charming?

God Bless America Review

Editor Rating: 4.5 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 5.0 / 5.0 (7 Votes)

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God Bless America Review

Bobcat Goldthwait may seem like the most unlikely of sources to create a searing social commentary comedy. But he nails it impeccably in...

Read Review Editor Rating
  • 4.5 / 5.0
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
User Rating

Rating: 5.0 / 5.0 (7 Votes)