Saturday, 24 November 2012



The title of the movie is sarcastic, of course: America is a shouty wasteland of ignorant, bellowing cretins that the Good Lord has long since abandoned. Its culture is mindless, shallow and aesthetically worthless, celebrating the talentless and the morally bankrupt; its television a repository of shrieking subhuman bullshit and its citizens heartless, mean-spirited bling-drenched morons obsessed with their own meaningless and ephemeral gratification above all else and all others. Just yesterday there was an unwatchably depressing video on YouTube showing American shoppers at the opening of the big Black Friday sale at WalMart, descending en masse on a pallet of cheap mobiles like Romero's zombies ripping apart the last human being alive. (Not that the UK can crow particularly: we've got Ant and Dec.)

That's the starting point behind Bobcat Goldthwait's God Bless America. It's an exaggeration, of course: obviously there are Americans who are intelligent and well-read and who appreciate subtitled movies and bathe once in a while, but they're drowned out by the imbeciles and the noise, the talent shows and reality shows that showcase neither talent nor reality, the bigotry, the fearmongering, the hate and the cruelty. Frank (Joel Murray, Bill's brother) is eventually pushed too far by a steady accumulation of garbage TV, inconsiderate neighbours, his own spoiled brat of a daughter, his simpleton coworkers, and ultimately his being sacked for basically trying to be a nice guy in an ocean of vileness. So he takes his gun and sets out to rid his country of its worst aspects, starting with the obnoxious teen bitch star of a TV reality show (which absolutely isn't My Super Sweet Sixteen, though it's entirely the same and quotes directly from it). He reluctantly teams up with the dead girl's classmate Roxanne (Tara Lynne Barr) and they embark on a spree against the Top Ten Greatest Nuisances Of Contemporary America.

Hate preachers picketing funerals, people who text in cinemas, ranting TV nutjobs, judges on a talent show (which absolutely isn't American Idol, though it's entirely the same)....some of those targets are certainly justified, but by adding in the trivial nuisance targets the film dilutes the venom aimed at the deserving cases. Equating the liars and fearmongers of a rightwing TV news channel (which absolutely isn't Fox News, though it's entirely the same) with selfish bastards who park over two spaces is like equating Robert Mugabe with the bloke from the Go Compare adverts or people who don't proofread their tweets: you lose perspective and proportion when you're basically gunning down anyone who isn't you. That's the point at which you become a Dalek. John Waters' Serial Mom had Kathleen Turner murdering people who didn't rewind rented videotapes or who wore white shoes after Labour Day (whatever the hell that is), but she wasn't also going after paedophiles and corrupt politicians at the same time.

With its cleanup crew of downtrodden loser and enthusiastic younger woman taking out the trash, it's more reminiscent of Super, but it's far better than that film and it's certainly funnier. Certainly it's not to be taken too seriously: there doesn't appear to be any kind of police action against them even though they've been witnessed, pictured on TV news and Frank is killing people with his own handgun and travelling in stolen cars. Still, God Bless America is funny, and there's no doubt that there's a righteous anger, bitter fury and steaming bile at work here, but unfortunately it's all spewing over pretty much everyone, and tacky karaoke shows and pseudo-documentaries showcasing inarticulate scum screeching incoherently at each other are easier comedy targets than, say, City bankers or elected representatives who lie, cheat and screw all of us over and pocket millions regardless of the cost or their actual worth. A movie about someone taking out those individuals would be worth seeing.

Meanwhile God Bless America is worth a look: it's repetitive in places with frequent glances at the head-banging awfulness of two hundred channels of bugger all, and it stops rather than comes to a natural ending, but there are laughs to be had and there's a measure of truth in it. It's a pity it only got a very limited theatrical release as it deserves a little more exposure than it received by basically being shunted off to DVD.


I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it any more:

No comments: