God Bless America (film)

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God Bless America
A middle aged man holding a gun in his outstretched arm. A girl leaning out of a yellow car pointing a gun.
Promotional poster
Directed by Bobcat Goldthwait
Produced by Jeff Culotta
Written by Bobcat Goldthwait
Music by Matt Kollar
Cinematography Bradley Stonesifer
Edited by Jason Stewart
Darko Entertainment
Distributed by Magnolia Pictures
Release dates
  • September 11, 2011 (2011-09-11) (Toronto)
  • April 6, 2012 (2012-04-06) (United States)
Country United States
Language English
Box office $122,550[1]

God Bless America is a 2011 dark comedy film that combines elements of political satire with black humor. The film was written and directed by Bobcat Goldthwait, and stars Joel Murray and Tara Lynne Barr.

God Bless America premiered on September 9, 2011, at the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival, and was released On Demand on April 6, 2012 and in theaters on May 11, 2012.[2] The DVD for the film was released on 9 July 2012.


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 the reality show series, Tuff Gurlz, where a foul-mouthed woman (Guerrin Gardner) removes a tampon from herself and throws it at another woman for defecating in her food, and an episode of American Superstarz where a mentally-handicapped singer named Steven Clark (Aris Alvarado) is cruelly humiliated by the judges for his horrible singing voice, Frank contemplates killing his rude and inconsiderate neighbors, whose screaming baby mixed in with his own insomnia and chronic migraine headaches give him a lack of peace in his own home. His ex-wife, Alison (Melinda Page Hamilton) has custody of their daughter, Ava (Mackenzie Brooke Smith), who has become a spoiled brat whose mother caters to her every whim. Making matters worse, he is fired from his job at the insurance company, after a failed attempt at being nice results in a sexual harassment complaint and violation of company privacy for looking up a coworker's address in the records. He is then informed by his uninterested doctor he has a terminal brain tumor that is nearly inoperable, but the doctor's seeming lack of concern only drives Frank further into depression.

Frank tries to commit suicide with a pistol he owns, but stops when he watches a reality show starring Chloe (Maddie Hasson), a spoiled teenager, who launches into a profanity-laced tirade when her parents mistakenly buy her a Lexus sedan instead of a Cadillac Escalade for her birthday, and has an epiphany. The next day he steals his neighbor's Camaro, drives to Chloe's school in Virginia and handcuffs her to her own steering wheel at gunpoint. After a failed attempt to ignite her gas tank, he kills her by shooting her at point blank range. One of Chloe's classmates, Roxanne "Roxy" Harmon (Tara Lynne Barr), witnesses this and comes to the same realization as Frank. Roxy follows Frank back to his motel where he is once again preparing to commit suicide; however, she prevents this by convincing Frank that the media would inevitably paint him as a homicidal stalker who only killed Chloe because of an unrequited sexual obsession. 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. To alleviate Frank's thoughts of suicide, Roxy suggests they kill Chloe's parents and he agrees. Frank shoots Chloe's father (Larry Miller), and after a brief chase, Roxy stabs her mother (Dorie Barton) with a kitchen knife. Roxy convinces Frank to take her along to keep her away from her drug addict mother and abusive, rapist step-father. They then decide to go on the lam, becoming fugitives to continue their killing spree. After buying new clothes at a thrift store, they visit a movie theater to watch a documentary about the 1968 My Lai Massacre. During the movie, several rude teenagers enter the mostly empty theater and begin talking loudly and using their cell phones. Frank and Roxy shoot and kill all but one of them (thanking her for being the only one not talking during the movie; later on in the film, on a news broadcast Frank and Roxy watch, her name is revealed to be Kimberly Black), as well as another patron (Toby Huss), who refrains himself from picking up somebody with the reason that he's working and tries to film the shooting with his cellphone. Afterwards they kill several others, including a man who double-parks his car, several Westboro Baptist Church members, and Michael Fuller (Regan Burns), a popular but abrasive conservative political television commentator.

After hearing about Steven Clark's attempt to kill himself apparently due to his infamy on American Superstarz garnering him a huge cult following and reappearance on Superstarz, Frank contemplates taking over the show. Frank then receives a call from his doctor telling him that there was an earlier mix-up with Frank's MRI results, and that his migraines are probably the result of simple stress and hypertension, rather than cancer. Elated that he's not dying, Frank decides to move to France with Roxy to avoid prosecution for the murders they've committed. While eating in a diner with Roxy, Frank is propositioned by "The Pancake Eating Pedophile" who mistakes Roxy for an underage prostitute and Frank as her pimp. Frank tells the pervert he has the wrong idea and leaves the diner. Later, Frank discovers in a news report that Roxy's real family and life are far different from what she described; instead, her parents are a typical American mother and father (Andrea Harper and David Mendenhall) in a middle-class neighborhood looking for her on television. Frank then strangles the pervert who had accosted him earlier in the diner to avoid being associated with Roxy's disappearance. Roxy confesses that she lied to Frank about her life back home after he confronts her. Her parents are average people who do care about her, but have always failed to take the time out of their material, consumer lives to appreciate her as a person. Angry that she lied to him, Frank parts ways with Roxy, giving her the Camaro he had stolen from his neighbor and takes the pervert's truck. Meanwhile, Roxy returns home to her family.

Frank buys an AK-47 assault rifle from an illegal arms dealer (Mike Tristano) and makes his way to the American Superstarz studio, killing off several cast members and holding the judges and contestants hostage for humiliating Steven. Frank makes a brutally honest speech in front of the camera about the ridiculousness and selfishness that is promoted in today's American society and on television. Steven interrupts Frank to reveal that the real reason he attempted suicide was not out of humiliation, but because he would never be on television again. When the SWAT team arrives, Roxy joins Frank on stage by surprise from the audience, and they proceed to shoot Steven, all the judges, contestants and several members of the audience before they are gunned down by the police, falling very much like Bonnie and Clyde.


Director and stars promoting the film at the Deauville American Film Festival in 2012.


God Bless America was selected to screen at the Toronto International Film Festival, South By Southwest Film Festival,[3] as well as the Maryland Film Festival and the Brisbane International Film Festival.


Critical response[edit]

The film received positive reviews. The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reported a 68% approval rating with an average rating of 6.2/10 based on 105 reviews. The website's consensus reads, "A darkly comic polemic on modern culture, God Bless America is uneven and somewhat this but the ideas behind this revenge fulfillment journey has primal appeal."[4]


Year Award Category Recipient Result Ref.
2013 Young Artist Award Best Performance in a Feature Film – Leading Young Actress Tara Lynne Barr Nominated [5]


  1. ^ "God Bless America". Box Office Mojo. 
  2. ^ Yahoo Movies UK & Ireland Rising Stars of 2012 by Daniel Bettridge, December 23, 2011
  3. ^ "SX Schedule God Bless America". SXSW Schedule. South By Southwest. 1 February 2012. Retrieved 1 March 2012. 
  4. ^ "God Bless America (2012)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 10 September 2013. 
  5. ^ "34th Annual Young Artist Awards". YoungArtistAwards.org. Retrieved 2013-03-31. 

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