**1/2 God Bless America (2012)
God Bless America is dark…. and I mean really, really dark. Writer and director Bobcat Goldthwait takes on modern pop culture and blasts it (literally) so full of holes that there’s not much left when he’s finished. The film is a bit of a one trick pony and you could argue that a story about spree-killing antiheroes wasting people just because they’re rude is guilty of descending to the same level of the thing it’s trying to lampoon, but satire is tough to get right in a post-ironic world. That said, movies like God Bless America don’t get made very often (for reasons that will become abundantly apparent in the opening neighbourcide wet dream) and there’s something uncomfortably refreshing about how inappropriate it all is. I’m not sure it will ever find its audience however, because the people most inclined to agree with Goldthwait’s politics aren’t typically the kind who watch movies where crying babies are blown up, even during an obvious wish-fulfillment dream sequence. You can think it, you even hint at it, but you can’t show somebody skeet shooting an infant, no matter how noisy they are.
A good friend of mine emails me with daily updates on what went wrong with the world in the preceding 24 hours and backs it up with the latest examples of human folly that he’s culled from surfing around on the internet. He see himself as a realist, but his unwavering belief that the sky is actually falling sometimes gives him the aura of a pessimist at best or a fanatic at worst. I can rarely muster up much in the way of a defense for society’s goofball antics, but even when I do, he’s not interested in hearing it anyways. He’s decided we’re dicked, and that’s all there is to it. These email exchanges look like back and forth discussions, but they really aren’t. There’s no point in disagreeing because what he’s telling you is irrefutable fact. Relating to God Bless America in any meaningful way falls somewhat into this same category because there’s no middle ground on display here either. Finding endless examples of bad behavior is just about the easiest past time you can conjure up these days, but at the end of the day, who really cares? You don’t have to watch American Idol, Jersey Shores or the Kardashians (who, up until very recently, I thought were just fictional Star Trek bad guys) you choose to and, yes, of course that makes you an idiot. Whether you deserve to die for your lowbrow cultural preferences however, is a matter of opinion.
Of course, none of God Bless America is meant to be taken literally either. It’s a lefty fantasy about ridding the world of the fear-mongering, hate-fostering assholes who clog up the airwaves and the U.S. South. It also takes aim at the entitlement class, spoiled brats, rude people and most of all, the people responsible for reality television programming. I’m OK with all that and understand that Goldthwait is trying to make a statement about the society’s perceived decline, but Jesus Bobcat, did you have to blast a baby at close range to get your point across? I don’t even like babies, but that was a bit much.
For all these reasons, God Bless America is difficult to recommend, but much like the country itself, if you can keep your outrage in check and forgive the one note script, there’s some interesting and unusual commentary going on here.