God Bless America Blu-ray Review
Have you ever heard a cell phone go off in a theater or witnessed one car take up two parking spaces? Who am I kidding, of course you have. In today’s society, common courtesy has been replaced with selfish rudeness. An all too accepted practice that warrants an under the breath “they should be shot” from the halfway decent people still left. GOD BLESS AMERICA explores the impulse of acting on that emotion and killing these “not nice” people in a dark comedic satire about what is wrong with contemporary American culture.
“Explore” might be the wrong verb to use. Perhaps “express” the impulse of killing “not nice” people would be more accurate as GOD BLESS AMERICA comes off a little more preachy than insightful, but it’s a viewpoint I can get behind… not the killing part but the not liking mean people part.
Frank (Joel Murray) is a middle aged divorcee who is not having the best life. As Frank is flipping through the channels trying to drown out the arguing neighbors and their crying baby, we get tons of hauntingly accurate made up shows taking aim at mean-spirited hateful political and religious extremists and the worthless MTV genre such as Jersey Shore, My Sweet Sixteen and American Idol. The following day, Frank is fired from his thankless job because his kindness is misunderstood as sexual harassment, his bratty daughter refuses to spend time with him because his house is boring and the doctor has just informed him that he has an inoperable tumor. When Frank decides to end it all with a gun to the mouth, a sudden realization of making the world a better place stops him. Why not kill the angry spoiled Sweet 16 girl on the television who just threw a hissy fit because her parents bought her the wrong car?
The premise is spectacular and the initial setup is terrifically put together. Instead of setting the place on fire, what if Milton from OFFICE SPACE decided to use bullets? Filmed more in the style of CLERKS, our protagonist mostly comments on his own frustrating observations. Joel Murray perfectly displays the sad sap irritated at all the junk that is fed into our body by our television. Under the wrong actor, it would be difficult to get behind Frank’s plight but Joel Murray’s quiet demeanor and droopy puppy dog face emits a harmless schlub. Rather than having the angry hard edge like Michael Douglas in FALLING DOWN, Frank has an everyman quality wanting to rid the world of bully’s. He’s the underdog against the world and he’s taking them out one reality star at a time.
After Frank’s hilariously shocking fake first kill followed by his delightfully funny real kill, he joins forces with a 16-year-old girl by the name of Roxy (Tara Lynne Barr). Hating just about everything including JUNO, which she ironically emulates in her adult like monologues, Roxy is a bit crazy and every bit on board with the murders. From here, the unlikely duo have conversations about what they hate and go on multiple killing sprees ridding the world of heartless self indulgent jerks.
GOD BLESS AMERICA doesn’t get too deep in finding solutions to its anger but rather just rants and kills. The film is sometimes awkwardly framed while certain monologues run on past their welcome. But the fact remains, the action is funny and the rants I can identify with, therefore, GOD BLESS AMERICA achieves past other films by being memorable, relatable and fun.
You might recognize the writer/director of GOD BLESS AMERICA as the raspy voice-cracked screaming comedian Bobcat Goldthwait from such gems as the POLICE ACADEMY films 2-4 and HOT TO TROT. With a simple IMDB search, I discovered the sad fired employee from SCROOGED has been directing for quite some time including many episodes of Jimmy Kimmel Live and Chappelle’s Show. The Blu-ray features show the even keel jovial husband and father as a much more soft spoken light hearted man. After seeing GOD BLESS AMERICA, I now find myself in the peculiar spot of needing to see his previous indie film WORLD’S GREATEST DAD starring Robin Williams and am on a fast track of becoming a fan of Mr. Bobcat Goldthwait.
Video: (1080p, 2.35:1) Fairly decent quality transitioning between some loud colored and flat muted scenes.
Audio: (DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1) The audio is fine picking up on the gun shots but feeling a little lifeless during some of the long monologues.
Audio Commentary: Bobcat Goldthwait, Joel Murray and Tara Lynne Barr give a very funny and informative commentary. This is a blast and if you like the film at all you will enjoy this feature.
Behind the Scenes: Killing with Kindness (27:34): An in depth look at the production documenting the film with interviews from the cast and crew.
God Bless TV: Deleted and Extended Scenes (5:00): These are more of the fake TV shows and commercials.
Outtakes (2:29): Terrible.
Interview with Bobcat Golthwait, Joel Murray and Tara Lynne Barre (27:42): This is actually really good. The three talk about the film very candidly about their thoughts and reasons behind the characters, story and direction. They address concerns and naysayers in a light-hearted manner full of jokes and laughter.
HDNet: A Look at God Bless America (4:54): A typical promo fluff piece using clips and interviews from the film.
Roxy & Frank Music Video (3:02): This is not the characters doing a music video. The song is by Mike Carano and the “video” is just picture stills from either the film or making of the film.