Matt Pais, @mattpais
RedEye movie critic
May 10, 2012
*** (out of four)
In the disturbing and often very funny rant “God Bless America,” writer-director Bobcat Goldthwait turns his eye on a dimwitted society in which cast members of the reality show “Tuff Gurlz” hurl used tampons at each other. A horrible singer on “America’s Superstarz” becomes an Internet sensation. People beat a homeless man and post it on YouTube. A commercial advertises a pig fart ringtone. And on and on.
It’s enough to drive a guy crazy.
That’s what happens to Frank (Wilmette native Joel Murray of “The Artist”), who can no longer take the spoiled brats celebrating their sweet 16s on TV or the political commentators spreading fear and hate from a comfortable studio chair. Frank, who’s dying of a brain tumor, also is detached from his ex and unpleasant daughter. So the guy takes matters into his own hands. He gets a gun and with help from a teenage girl (Tara Lynne Barr), sets out on a killing spree to off those he deems mean, selfish and hateful.
Obviously, Frank’s mission reeks of hypocrisy. He establishes himself on moral high ground above those he deems unworthy of society. That sounds good from a level-headed, liberal perspective—until one considers that kind of thinking has fueled genocide throughout history.
Working with even more disillusioned anger than “Idiocracy,” Goldthwait (“World’s Greatest Dad”) doesn’t indict this approach as much as he thinks. Nevertheless, “America,” despite recognizing some easy targets, possesses a daring point of view connecting rude pop culture and citizens losing grip on common courtesy. Normal is the new weird and edgy has lost its edge, despite the boatloads of people trying to one-up each other.
Frank doesn’t work especially hard to find people with whom to have the sensible conversations he feels have disappeared. Goldthwait also stops short of considering what society might think about such an intellectually superior vigilante. Yet it’s hard not to agree with the filmmaker as he recognizes a world full of noise and insincere nationalistic rhetoric that supports, as the movie suggests, a united place of people who hate each other.
Watch Matt on “You & Me This Morning,” Friday at 7:30 a.m. on WCIU, the U
Copyright © 2014 Chicago Tribune Company, LLC