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 $123,000[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, 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 and told by his uninterested doctor that he has a terminal brain tumor that is nearly inoperable.

Frank tries to commit suicide, but stops as he watches a reality TV show starring Chloe (Maddie Hasson), an extremely spoiled teenager, and has an epiphany. The next day, he steals his neighbors car and drives to Virginia to Chloe's school and, after unsuccessfully attempting to blow up her car with her in it, he 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. They visit a movie theater to hide out and watch a documentary about the 1968 My Lai Massacre. During the film, several teenagers enter the nearly empty theater and immediately exhibit obnoxious behavior, talking aloud and on their cell phones. One of them throws popcorn at Frank. Frank and Roxy shoot and kill all but one of them, a girl who Frank thanks for not being rude. Subsequently, they kill several others, including a rude man who double-parks his car, several extremist protesting church members, and Michael Fuller (Regan Burns), a popular but abrasive conservative political television commentator.

During an evening while they're laying 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 they've committed. Frank then calls his doctor to check on a message left for him. The doctor tells him there was mix-up with his MRI results (the image was of another patient), there is no tumor in his brain, and that his headaches are probably just the result of stress or hypertension. Elated that he's not dying, while eating breakfast in the motel diner with Roxy and discussing their travel-to-France plans, Frank is propositioned by a pedophile who believes Roxy is an underage prostitute and Frank her pimp. A bit later, Frank discovers in a TV news report that Roxy's real family and life are far different from what she described; her parents are a typical American mother and father (Andrea Harper and David Mendenhall) living in a middle-class neighborhood, worried about and looking for their daughter. Angry and upset, Frank then ambushes and strangles the pervert (who had earlier insulted him in the diner), as the man is leaving the motel. Frank takes the man's pickup truck and begins to leave, telling Roxy what he saw on the TV. She confesses that she lied to him about her life back home, because she wanted to get away from her bland existence and experience something 'un-normal' in her life. Frank leaves her the car and they split up.

Frank buys an AK-47 assault rifle 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 goes to and 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, and she apologizes 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 today's American society and on television. Frank then tells Roxy she is a pretty girl, and they proceed to shoot 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]