Freelance writer. Melbourne based cinephile. Fond of food.
Published November 17th 2012
When I first started watching God Bless America, I felt like I was looking at my own life on the screen. In the film a hapless everyman struggles to cope with inconsiderate, noisy neighbours, goes to the cinema only to be subjected to more rude people talking and generally making a noise throughout the film, and has his senses dulled by the constant stream of inane and soul destroying dross on TV and the radio.
Where my life and that of our hero diverge is that I don't take out a gun and start shooting people who annoy me. It may seem like a nice idea sometimes, but most of us keep these impulses in check. Frank, on the other hand, has had just about enough. He may have a deadpan delivery to his commentaries on all that's wrong with America today, but inside seethes a pit of molten lava.
Joining Frank on his killing spree is teenager Roxy. She is even more verbose, rattling off wordy diatribes on pop culture with a breathless machine-gun delivery. Our modern day Bonnie and Clyde, despair for the decline of the empire. They aim to do something about it, by killing those responsible, one douche bag at a time.
Everything from reality TV, shock jocks, political and religious zealots, to celebrity obsession is paraded in front of the firing line. This is a black comedy with a lot to say, and for the most part its surprisingly funny, especially considering it was directed by a former Police Academy alumni.
Frank and Roxy make a fine pair, killers with a cause, although individually they have different agendas. Frank is at the end of his tether, reluctantly picking off victims as a last resort to make the world a better place. The younger Roxy on the other hand is very much caught up in the thrill of the kill, and to hell with the consequences.
Director Bobcat Goldthwait sets a giddy pace, which alas he can't sustain. A certain repetition slowly sets in, and he paints himself into a corner with a climax which can only disappoint. Still, this is a ride worth taking, and especially for us outsiders who can smugly sit back and say to ourselves that we haven't quite got to such a state of moral bankruptcy as our American friends. Yet.