God Bless America

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Frank Murdoch (Joel Murray) is a sad, divorced insurance salesman. By night he struggles against insomnia brought on by headaches and his loud mindless neighbours, escaping either into violent fantasies or the sewer of popular television. By day he works with people who are obsessed with the TV he hates, and have no other interests at all. When a misguided attempt at being nice gets him fired, and he finds out from his doctor that his headaches are the result of brain cancer, Frank decides to act out his fantasies for the betterment of the world at large.

How much you enjoy God Bless America from this point on is going to depend entirely on how much you agree with Bobcat Goldthwait. The film is best understood as a raw scream of rage at the cultural and political forces he considers to be rotting America from the inside out – primarily petty selfishness and an obsession with the cruelest and shallowest forms of celebrity on offer.

Frank and his sidekick Roxy (Tara Lynne Barr) sometimes seem less like characters than direct stand-ins for Goldthwait. They make speeches which simply lay out the film’s manifesto, and pick their targets from an incredibly thinly-veiled list of real-world people and groups including most notably American Idol, Glenn Beck, My Super-Sweet Sixteen and the notorious Westboro Baptist Church (they also find room for people who double-park and talk during movies).

If you agree with Bobcat Goldthwait that all these shows, people and organisations are a blight on society (and you’re OK with watching them obliterated in a crudely cathartic splatter of rage) then you’ll probably enjoy this movie. If you disagree with Goldthwait’s targets, or feel uneasy about heroising characters who are essentially spree killers then it’s probably not for you.

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