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
Distributed by Magnolia Pictures
Release dates
  • September 11, 2011 (2011-09-11) (TIFF)
  • April 6, 2012 (2012-04-06) (United States)
Running time
104 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Box office $122,550[2]

God Bless America is a 2011 American 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.


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 (particularly a stupid but hugely successful reality TV program called "American Superstarz", which is very similar to American Idol and focuses on an untalented young singer who bursts into tears when the judge and audience delightedly kick him off the show and laugh at him), 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. Making matters worse, he is fired from his job at the insurance company for inappropriate conduct with a female co-worker--he learned via the company's network that her birthday was coming up and he bought balloons to work to celebrate it, only for his co-worker to get very angry and accuse him of violating her privacy and stalking--and told by his uninterested doctor that he has a terminal brain tumor that is nearly inoperable.

Frank tries to commit suicide, but stops when he watches a reality show starring Chloe (Maddie Hasson), a spoiled teenager, and has an epiphany. The next day, he drives to Virginia to Chloe's school and, after attempting to blow up her car, shoots 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; Roxy 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. 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). Roxy convinces Frank to take her along to keep her away from her drug addict mother and abusive step-father. They then decide to go on the lam, becoming fugitives to continue their killing spree; while Roxy makes it clear to Frank she wants to sleep with him, Frank shoots down her come-ons and says they are platonic partners on their mission and nothing more. They visit a movie theater to watch a documentary about the 1968 My Lai Massacre. During the film, 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. 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.

Frank 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 a pedophile who mistakes Roxy for an underage prostitute and Frank as her pimp. 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. Roxy confesses that she lied to Frank about her life back home and they split up.

Frank buys an AK-47 assault rifle from an illegal arms dealer (Mike Tristano) and makes his way to the American Superstarz studio. He says he is there to stand up for the untalented singer he had seen earlier, but the singer has returned as part of a "second chances" round and stuns Frank by saying he never cared that people were mean to him: that was part of his role on the show, and he was distraught not over that treatment but over no longer getting to be famous on TV. Frank absolutely loses his mind and begins killing several cast members and holding the judges and contestants hostage. 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. When the SWAT team arrives, Roxy joins Frank on stage and they proceed to shoot all the judges, contestants and several members of the audience before they are gunned down by the police.


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.


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 theaters on May 11, 2012.[4] The DVD for the film was released on July 9, 2012.

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."[5]


Year Award Category Recipient Result Ref.
2013 Young Artist Award Best Performance in a Feature Film – Leading Young Actress Tara Lynne Barr Nominated [6]


  1. ^ "GOD BLESS AMERICA (15)". British Board of Film Classification. May 8, 2012. Retrieved May 3, 2015. 
  2. ^ "God Bless America". Box Office Mojo. 
  3. ^ "SX Schedule God Bless America". SXSW Schedule. South By Southwest. 1 February 2012. Retrieved 1 March 2012. 
  4. ^ Yahoo Movies UK & Ireland Rising Stars of 2012 by Daniel Bettridge, December 23, 2011
  5. ^ "God Bless America (2012)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 10 September 2013. 
  6. ^ "34th Annual Young Artist Awards". YoungArtistAwards.org. Retrieved 2013-03-31. 

External links[edit]