God Bless America (film)

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God Bless America
A middle aged man holding a gun in his outstretched arm and a girl leaning out of a yellow car pointing a gun.
Promotional poster
Directed byBobcat Goldthwait
Produced bySean McKittrick
Jeff Culotta
Written byBobcat Goldthwait
Starring
Music byMatt Kollar
CinematographyBradley Stonesifer
Edited byJason Stewart
Production
company
Distributed byMagnolia Pictures
Release date
  • September 9, 2011 (2011-09-09) (TIFF)
  • April 6, 2012 (2012-04-06) (United States)
Running time
104 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Box office$123,000[2]

God Bless America is a 2011 American action black comedy film written and directed by Bobcat Goldthwait. Combining elements of political satire with dark humor, the film stars Joel Murray and Tara Lynne Barr as a middle-aged man and a teenage girl who go on a killing spree after bonding over their hatred of what U.S. culture has become in a post-9/11 world.

Plot[edit]

Frank Murdoch is a middle-aged insurance salesman who is sick of how the U.S. has fallen into a state of rudeness based on pop culture, TV, the Internet, and talk radio. He fantasizes about killing his neighbors, whose screaming baby worsens his migraines and keeps him awake. The next morning, the neighbor blocks in his car with theirs, and he is frustrated when they act like he is imposing by asking them to move it. Meanwhile, Frank's ex-wife Alison has custody of their daughter Ava, who has become a spoiled brat. When Frank obtains a co-worker's address without permission to send her roses after she tells him she is feeling down, he is fired. He is later told by his uninterested doctor that he has a terminal brain tumor.

That evening, Frank's attention is caught by American Superstarz,[a] which features an intellectually disabled man named Steven who is mocked by the judges. Frank prepares to shoot himself but stops when he sees a reality show about Chloe, an extremely spoiled teenager, which gives him an epiphany. He steals his neighbor's car and drives to Chloe's school, and after unsuccessfully attempting to blow her up in her car, he shoots her through the window. Fellow student Roxanne "Roxy" Harmon witnesses this and applauds Frank, despite initially chastising him because she thought he was a pervert spying on Chloe. Roxy follows Frank back to his motel, where he is once again preparing to shoot himself, and he agrees to let her watch him do so; instead, she decides to talk him out of it. Frank explains that he only wants bad people to die, and Roxy suggests they kill Chloe's parents, who only mourn the financial loss their daughter's death has brought them.

The two travel to Chloe's home, where Frank shoots Chloe's father and Roxy stabs Chloe's mother. Roxy convinces Frank to let her join his killing spree by revealing that she is trailer trash who is at the mercy of a drug-addicted mother and rapist step-father. They visit a cinema to watch a documentary about the Mỹ Lai Massacre, and several teenagers begin acting obnoxiously. Frank and Roxy shoot all of them except for the one who did not do anything rude, and Frank thanks her for it before killing a man who is recording him on a smartphone. The spree continues with several other people killed, including a rude man who double-parks his car, a group of far-right religious protesters,[b] and a popular right-wing political commentator.[c] Roxy suggests to Frank that they move to France and "go legit", with a plan to raise goats and make cheese while avoiding prosecution for the murders they have committed as France would not extradite them.

Frank's doctor calls him and reveals that he has no tumor, as his MRI results were mixed up with that of a similarly-named patient who does. While eating breakfast at a motel with Roxy, Frank's new lease on life is ruined when a pedophile at the next table assumes that Roxy is an underage prostitute and Frank is her pimp. Later, Frank sees a TV news missing person report in which Roxy's parents are revealed to be wholesome, middle-class, and concerned about her safety. Incensed at being lied to by Roxy, Frank takes out his anger on the pedophile by strangling him to death. Frank tells Roxy that he knows the truth, and she confesses but explains that she wanted to get away from a life of bland conformity. Frank gives her the keys to his neighbor's car and leaves in the pedophile's pickup truck.

Frank buys a Norinco MAK-90 assault rifle from an arms dealer and sees another TV news report, revealing that Roxy is back home with her parents and that police are searching for her apparent abductor. He gains access to the American Superstarz studio, kills several audience members and a judge, and holds everybody else in the studio hostage. As the police arrive, Roxy joins Frank onstage and apologizes for lying to him. Frank gives a speech in front of the TV camera about the selfishness promoted in today's American society and mentions that he heard about the suicide attempt by Steven, the disabled man who is now in the studio as a special guest performer; Steven points out that he attempted suicide not because they mocked him, but because they had no plans to put him back on TV. Disappointed, Frank turns to Roxy and tells her she is a pretty girl—a question he had refused to answer earlier in the film due to her young age—and they proceed to shoot Steven, the judges, and audience members before being gunned down by the police.

Cast[edit]

Festivals[edit]

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.

Release[edit]

God Bless America premiered on September 9, 2011 at the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival,[4] and was released video on demand on April 6, 2012 and in theatres on May 11, 2012.[5] The DVD and Blu-ray for the film were released on July 3, 2012.[6][7]

Critical response[edit]

God Bless America received generally mixed reviews. As of June 2020, the film holds a 65% approval rating on the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, based on 114 reviews with an average rating of 6.17/10; its consensus read: "A darkly comic polemic on modern culture, God Bless America is uneven and somewhat thin, but the ideas behind this revenge fulfillment journey have primal appeal."[8] 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".[9]

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."[10] James Berardinelli of Reelviews praised the film by giving 3 stars out of 4, calling it "funny but it is also at times uncomfortable".[11] 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."[12] 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."[13]

Some negative reception was due to many critics noticing similarities to the film Falling Down.[14]

Accolades[edit]

Year Award Category Recipient Result Ref.
2013 Young Artist Award Best Performance in a Feature Film – Leading Young Actress Tara Lynne Barr Nominated [15]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ A thinly-veiled copy of American Idol.
  2. ^ Heavily resembling the Westboro Baptist Church.
  3. ^ Heavily resembling Tucker Carlson.

References[edit]

  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. February 1, 2012. Retrieved March 1, 2012.
  4. ^ https://bloody-disgusting.com/news/26264/tiff-11-god-bless-america-is-hopefully-better-than-this-cheap-poster/
  5. ^ Yahoo Movies UK & Ireland Rising Stars of 2012 by Daniel Bettridge, December 23, 2011
  6. ^ Venable, Nick. "God Bless America [DVD]". Cinemablend. Retrieved September 8, 2016.
  7. ^ "God Bless America". Slant. July 5, 2012. Retrieved September 8, 2016.
  8. ^ "God Bless America (2012)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved June 16, 2020.
  9. ^ "God Bless America". Metacritic. Retrieved September 8, 2016.
  10. ^ Ebert, Roger (May 9, 2012). "God Bless America". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved September 8, 2016.
  11. ^ Berardinelli, James (May 7, 2012). "God Bless America (United States, 2012)". Reelviews. Retrieved September 8, 2016.
  12. ^ Gleiberman, Owen (May 15, 2012). "God Bless America". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved September 8, 2016.
  13. ^ Taylor, Ella (May 10, 2012). "'America': A Gleefully Violent Pop-Culture Pushback". NPR. Retrieved September 8, 2016.
  14. ^ "Review: The Problem with "God Bless America" (2011)". July 11, 2012. Retrieved September 20, 2016.
  15. ^ "34th Annual Young Artist Awards". YoungArtistAwards.org. Retrieved March 31, 2013.

External links[edit]