God Bless America
Director - Bobcat Goldthwait
Cast - Joel Murray, Tara Lynne Baxter
Country of Origin - U.S.
Discs - 1
MSRP - $26.98
Distributor - Magnolia Home Entertainment
Reviewer - Scott MacDonald
The Film (3.5/5)
I first heard of God Bless America, when a friend at my last job recommended the film to me during it's brief theatrical run. As I lacked the ability to see films theatrically at the time, I had to pass, but I did put the film on my radar, especially after seeing it was directed by former Police Academy sequel star Bobcat Goldthwait.
Before doing my brief research on God Bless America, I had no idea that Bobcat's career had in the last decade turned him from character actor and comedian to successful independent film director, directing such indie comedies as Sleeping Dogs Lie and World's Greatest Dad (now very high on my must see list). So when God Bless America finally hit home, I knew it was finally time to check it out, and I am extremely happy that I did.
God Bless America stars Joel Murray as Frank Murdoch, a guy who starts the film pretty much having the worst day ever. His noisy obnoxious neighbors are so loud, he can't sleep, so he's forced to watch horrible late night TV. The next day that horrible programming is rubbed in his face at the office as the main topic of discussion, right after he expresses his disdain for these programs, he is promptly fired. Obviously, not for his opinions on modern pop culture, rather because he sent flowers to a co-worker who was having a bad day.
If that weren't bad enough, at a Doctor's appointment he goes to soon after he discovers that he has a terminal brain tumor and doesn't have long to live. While sitting at home that night, and watching God Bless America's version of My Super Sweet 16, he comes upon the answer he is looking for. He takes down his gun, grabs some bullets, and decides to take out Chloe the obnoxious She-Devil star of the episode he was just watching.
Watching him as he commits the murder is 16 year old Roxy, an Alice Cooper obsessed outcast, looking for a way out of her small Virginia town, and finding it with Frank and a gun. She strong arms him into taking her on the road, and together they go on the road taking on bad people, and horrible pop culture with a handful of loaded weapons.
God Bless America plays off like a blend of Leon and Natural Born Killers. Obviously, Frank is not as self-assured, and experienced as Leon, but the dynamic is similar. Also, Natural Born Killers trumps the obvious Bonnie and Clyde comparison simply because they both are attaching the media, although I will say NBK probably did it a bet better.
Of course, neither Natural Born Killers of God Bless America are subtle films. The message in God Bless America is not some sort of sweet subtextual message, it's about as blunt as a sledgehammer crashing down on the viewers head, and honestly that is one of it's real perks. In a society dominated by a very conservative media it's refreshing to see a movie that just doesn't hold back at all it's opinions.
The only negatives I can really find with the film is that it can be sort of one-note at times, but it is a very funny note, well directed and written by Goldthwait. The lead performance by Joel Murray really sells the script and the character of Frank as a man truly embittered by the society he lives in, and will do anything to get his point across.
Overall, God Bless America is a breath of fresh air in the modern comedic landscape. It successfully blends elements of action, comedy, a coming of age film, while on the road. It is a really fun time, so long as you find yourself on the same side of the political spectrum as the creator, everyone else proceed carefully, you might find yourself a teensy bit offended.
Magnolia has presented Bobcat Goldthwait's God Bless America with a very nice 2:35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer that preserves the films original aspect ratio. The transfer boast very nice details, colors, and flesh tones, with the occasional bit of softness throughout.
The audio is presented in a solid 5.1 track in English with optional Spanish subtitles (Seriously Magnolia, can you possibly put some English subtitles on your releases for us hard of hearing English speakers in Region 1?). Dialogue is completely audible throughout the film, and I could not pick up on any issues with the audio on the track.
The DVD kicks off with a commentary featuring director Bobcat Goldthwait, actors Joel Murray and Tara Lynne Baxter. We then get a roughly 30 minute Behind The Scenes documentary called Behind The Scenes: Killing with Kindness, this is followed up by 5 minutes of deleted and extended scenes, this is followed up by 2 more minutes of Outtakes. We then get roughly 30 minutes of interviews with Bobcat, and the primary cast, a 5 minute HD NET puff piece on God Bless America, a Mike Carano music video set to scenes from the film, and finally the films theatrical trailer.
God Bless America is a political message film with a message so subtle it's like taking a sledgehammer to the skull. If you agree with the views expressed by the writer/director than you might have a good time here, all else might proceed with caution. I personally found the film a very funny riff on films such as Luc Besson's Leon and Oliver Stone's Natural Born Killers. The A/V is sharp, and the disc is packed with extras. Highly Recommended.