ⓘ God Bless America (film)
God Bless America is a 2011 American black comedy thriller film that combines elements of political satire with dark humor. The film is written and directed by Bobcat Goldthwait, and stars Joel Murray and Tara Lynne Barr.
Frank Murdoch Joel Murray is a middle-aged insurance salesman living in Syracuse, New York, who is sick with how the United States has fallen into a state of rudeness based on pop culture, talk radio, television, and Internet influences. After a boring evening of watching television, including American Superstarz a thinly-disguised version of American Idol, the nights episode featuring an intellectually disabled man named Steven Clark who is mocked by the judges, Frank visualizes killing his loud and inconsiderate neighbors, whose babys screams exacerbate his chronic migraine headaches and rob him of sleep. His ex-wife Alison Melinda Page Hamilton has custody of their daughter Ava Mackenzie Brooke Smith, who has become a typical spoiled brat. Matters come to a head when he is fired after 11 years service at the insurance company for obtaining a female co-workers address without authority merely to send her roses to lift her spirits; then told by his profane and uninterested doctor that he has an inoperable, terminal brain tumor.
Frank prepares to commit suicide but stops as his TV features a reality show starring Chloe Maddie Hasson, an extremely spoiled teenager, and has an epiphany. The next day, he steals his noisy neighbors car and drives to Chloes school and, after unsuccessfully attempting to blow her up in her car, he shoots her at point-blank range. One of Chloes classmates, Roxanne "Roxy" Harmon Tara Lynne Barr, witnesses this and applauds him. Roxy follows Frank back to his motel where he is once again preparing to commit suicide; initially egging him on, Roxy then talks him out of it. Frank explains to Roxy that he only wants bad people to die – people who have committed blatant acts of cruelty and stupidity against their fellow man. Roxy suggests they kill Chloes parents and he agrees. Frank shoots Chloes father Larry Miller and, after a brief chase, Roxy stabs her mother Dorie Barton. Roxy convinces Frank to take her along by painting herself the tragic victim of her drug-addicted mother and rapist step-father. They then decide to go on the lam, continuing their killing spree. They visit a movie theatre to watch a documentary about the 1968 My Lai Massacre. During the film, several teenagers enter the nearly empty theatre and immediately act obnoxiously, talking aloud and on their cell phones. One of them throws popcorn at Frank. Frank and Roxy shoot and kill all but the least aggravating of them, whom Frank thanks for not being rude. Subsequently, they kill several others, including a rude man who double-parks his car, several far-right religious protesters and Michael Fuller Regan Burns, a popular, abrasive conservative political television commentator.
During an evening while theyre lying low, Roxy suggests to Frank that they move to France and go legit, to raise goats and make cheese, and avoid prosecution for the murders theyve committed. Returning a phone message from his doctor, Frank learns there was a mix-up with his MRI results the image was of another patient named Frank and that he has no tumor and probably just suffers from any one of a number of relatively inconsequential ailments. Franks new lease on life is spoiled when, while eating breakfast in the motel diner with Roxy and discussing their travel-to-France plans, a leering redneck at the next table labels Roxy an underage prostitute and Frank her pimp. The same day, Frank sees a TV news missing person report in which Roxys parents Andrea Harper and David Mendenhall appear wholesome and concerned, a far cry from her description. Incensed at the deception, Frank takes out his anger on the leering diner, garroting him in his room. Frank takes the mans pickup truck and, as he is leaving, tells Roxy he knows the truth. She confesses but says she had to get away from a life of bland conformity and experience something un-normal. Frank leaves her the stolen car and they split up.
Frank buys an AK-47 from an illegal arms dealer Mike Tristano and makes his way to Los Angeles. Frank sees another TV news report that shows Roxy back home with her elated parents and that he is wanted for abducting her. Unbeknownst to him, Roxy is not happy to be back home. Frank gains access into the American Superstarz studio, kills several audience members and one judge, and holds the other judges, contestants, and the audience hostage. As the SWAT team arrives, Roxy also appears and joins Frank on stage, apologizing for lying to him. Frank makes a brutally honest speech in front of the TV camera about the ridiculousness and selfishness that is promoted in todays American society and on television. During the speech, Frank mentions a suicide attempt by Clark from earlier in the film, to which he Clark points out that his suicide attempt was a ploy to re-appear on American Superstarz. Frank then tells Roxy she is a pretty girl, a question from her that he had refused to answer earlier on in the film on the grounds that Roxy was only 16, and they proceed to shoot Clark, the judges, and several members of the audience before being gunned down by the police.
God Bless America was selected to screen at the Toronto International Film Festival, South By Southwest Film Festival, as well as the Maryland Film Festival and the Brisbane International Film Festival.
God Bless America premiered on September 9, 2011 at the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival, and was released video on demand on April 6, 2012 and in theatres on May 11, 2012. The DVD and Blu-ray for the film were released on July 3, 2012.
3.1. Release Critical response
God Bless America received generally mixed reviews. The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes gave a 67% approval rating with an average rating of 6.2/10 based on 107 reviews; its consensus read: "A darkly comic polemic on modern culture, God Bless America is uneven and somewhat thin, but the ideas behind this revenge fulfilment journey have primal appeal." Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, gave an average score of 56 out of 100 based on 24 reviews, indicating "mixed or average reviews".
Chicago Sun-Times critic Roger Ebert gave the film 2 stars out 4, and wrote: "this is a film that begins with merciless comic savagery and descends into merely merciless savagery. But wow, what an opening." James Berardinelli of Reelviews praised the film by giving 3 stars out of 4, calling it "funny but it is also at times uncomfortable". Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly gave a C, and described the film as "a burlesque that turns into a harangue that turns into a rampage." Ella Taylor of NPR gave a positive review, and wrote: God Bless America ends with a couple of tale-twisting bullet orgies designed to take your preconceptions, as well as your nerve-endings, by surprise."
Some negative reception was due to many critics noticing similarities to the film Falling Down.
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