If you ask a dozen random UK residents just what their thoughts on Bobcat Goldthwait were then I’d bet that the results would be something as follows: 4 would say “that guy from the Police Academy movies who screamed a lot? I used to like him, yeah”, 6 would say “who?” and 2, if you were lucky, would say “he used to be tolerable onscreen but has really grown into a great writer/director” before recommending the superb World’s Greatest Dad to you. Those last two people, they’re the people that I would enjoy chatting to the most.
Mixing the premise of the excellent Falling Down with something that may well have come from the mind of Ben Elton (I’m thinking mainly of the excellent “Popcorn” here) or Charlie Brooker (pretty much anything that he’s done in the last 5-10 years), God Bless America tells the story of Frank (Joel Murray). Frank is at a point in his life when his hatred of the world around him crashes right up against his opportunity to do something about it. En route, he picks up a fan/partner in crime in the shape of the young and opinionated Roxy (Tara Lynne Barr) and before you can say Bonnie & Clyde Clear The Badlands Of Modern Culture the stage is set for an immensely satisfying “culling of the herd”.
Now I know that I risk some backlash here for my opinion but God Bless America was pretty much a wish-fulfilment movie for me every step of the way. It has moments that will rile you up because of your personal politics but, overall, it’s a unifying call to claw the human race back from the brink of complete unworthiness. Reality TV shows and stars, spoilt teenagers, people who ruin the cinema experience by talking and using phones, religious zealouts spreading hatred, pundits spreading fear, wannabe paedophiles and people who take up two parking spaces because they think that it doesn’t matter . . . . . . . . . these evil specimens are all looked at through the barrel of Frank’s gun and are all found wanting. More importantly, society has degraded itself for so long and made every lowest common denominator such an everyday standard that the hardest decision for a righteous killer to make is deciding just when to stop.
Joel Murray and Tara Lynne Barr are great in the two lead roles and they really carry the film because this is a three person job. The actor, the actress and writer/director Goldthwait. Everyone else onscreen also does sterling work, and the soundtrack is very good too, but the two leads have a ball discussing every little annoyance of modern society and those words were written by Goldthwait, who also keeps the pace and the tone perfect from start to finish.
Many people will dismiss this as simply a retread of material that we’ve already seen done quite well (I’ve seen a lot of reactions from angry folk who haven’t even seen the film yet worried that it attacks their personal political leaning and so just reminding others that we already had/have Falling Down and that Bobcat Goldthwait is, apparently, a has-been). It IS a blend of unoriginal elements but it’s such a great blend that it easily earns its own place in the hearts of like-minded cynics and pessimists. Others may be too busy voting for their favourite act in *Insert Country Name Here*’s Got Talent.
God Bless America is showing as part of EIFF 2012 on Fri 29th June (20:20) and Sat 30th June (15:30) at Cineworld.
WRITER/DIRECTOR: BOBCAT GOLDTHWAIT
STARS: JOEL MURRAY, TARA LYNNE BARR, MELINDA PAGE HAMILTON, MACKENZIE BROOKE SMITH, RICH MCDONALD
RUNTIME: 105 MINS APPROX