Thursday, 15 September 2011
TIFF 2011 - God Bless America
God Bless America (2011) dir. Bobcat Goldthwait
Starring: Joel Murray, Tara Lynne Barr
By Greg Klymkiw
Frank is a very kind person.
He kills people.
But they deserve it.
Played brilliantly with pathos and deadpan humour by Joel Murray, Frank is a hard working American for whom life keeps dealing one losing card after another. He's been diagnosed with a fatal disease. His wife has left him for a hunky young cop in a suburban paradise. His daughter has turned into a shrill spoiled brat who doesn't want to visit him on custody days because he has no cool stuff at home like video games. He "forces" her to do "boring" stuff like art, going to the zoo and playing in the park. In fact, his progeny is so indifferent towards him that when Mom calls Frank to see if he can stop one of the brat's petulant gimme-gimme-gimme outbursts, the little bugger’s response is, "I don't want Daddy! I want an iPhone!!!"
Frank is plagued and beleaguered by the Decline of Western Civilization In his world, the decay currently sending America straight into the crapper is one of the things forcing him to lie around his squalid home after mind-numbing work days as an insurance company executive.
Home is a man's castle, but not this man, not this home. His next-door neighbours are genetically moronic White Trash filth - living poster children for strangulation at birth. He is forced, night after night, to crank up the volume on his television to try drowning out their subhuman conversation, the endless cacophony of verbal and physical abuse, the wham-bam sexual activities, the constant caterwauling from their no-doubt genetically stupid infant and the grotesque sounds emanating from their stereo and/or TV.
What he has to endure on television is, frankly, just as bad – the sort of stuff feeding the feeble minds of America – most notably his mind-bereft neighbours. There’s Tuff Girlz, a reality-TV program. Just as Frank channel hops to it, a white trash woman digs a blood-soaked tampon out of her vagina and flings it towards an equally foul white trash douche. Then there’s the endless parade of right wing wags dumping on the disenfranchised of America or insisting: “God hates fags” or presenting images of Barack Obama as Adolph Hitler – replete with Swastikas. News reports of homeless people being burned alive or true crime info-docs on the likes of mass murderer Charles Whitman buttress programs like Dumb Nutz where grown men engage in horrendously painful physical practical jokes on themselves. The airwaves are choked on the self-explanatory Bowling on Steroids or American Superstarz where a celebrity panel insults an untalented retarded boy with no talent whatsoever.
Perhaps the most repellent of all is reality TV star Chloe, a nasty teenage girl who treats anyone and everyone like dirt. She must die.
Poor Frank. Even when he drives to work, every station on his car radio is an aural assault from Tea Party types. Once he gets to the office he has to endure the boneheaded water cooler talk of his simpleton colleagues as they moronically regurgitate everything he was forced to endure on television the night before. Capping off Frank’s miserable existence is a tiny bright spot that quickly turns dark. The fat, ugly sow that handles reception at the front of the office and openly flirts with him files a sexual harassment complaint behind his back and he loses his job.
When he gets home, all he has to look forward to is turning on his TV full blast, yet again, to drown out his jelly-brained neighbours. There is, however, a solution.
Frank, you see, is a Liberal – a Liberal with a handgun.
Cleaning up begins at home, so he pays his neighbours and their grotesquely squealing infant a visit. With his gun in hand, Frank upholds the values of Liberals everywhere – he does what it takes to do what all Liberals must do when civilization is on the brink of collapse.
Okay, we’re only about 15 minutes into God Bless America and at this point I laughed so hard I suspected I might have ruptured something.
From here, the movie doesn’t let up for a second – especially once Frank begins a spree of violence against intolerance with a gorgeous, sexy teenage girl (winningly played by Tara Lynne Barr) who takes a liking to both him and his ways. They’re birds of a feather – a veritable Bonnie and Clyde – fighting for the rights of Liberals and anyone else who might be sick and tired of the mess America is in.
God Bless America is one of the best black comedies I’ve seen in ages. Bobcat Goldthwait makes movies with a sledge hammer, but it's a mighty trusty sledge hammer. He has developed a distinctive voice that began with the magnificently vile Shakes the Clown and with this new film he hits his stride with crazed assuredness. Some might take issue with the way he lets his central characters rant nastily and hilariously - well beyond the acceptability of dramatic necessity - but I have to admit it is what makes his work as a filmmaker so unique. He creates a world that exists within his own frame of reference which, at the same time, reflects aspects and perspectives that hang from contemporary society like exposed, jangled nerves.
With God Bless America, Goldthwait delivers a movie for the ages – one that exposes the worst of America and delivers a satisfying Final Solution to the problem of stupidity and ignorance. The pace, insanity and barrage of delightfully tasteless jokes spew from him with a vengeance, but they're not only funny, he uses them to create movies that challenge the worst elements of the Status Quo.
It's a movie that fights fire with fire.
Or rather, with a handgun.
It’s the American Way!
Even for Liberals.
God Bless America was unveiled at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF 2011) and if we’re lucky, it’ll be released theatrically very soon.