Sunday, August 05, 2012

Penny Thoughts ‘12—God Bless America (2012) **½

R, 105 min.
Director/Writer: Bobcat Goldthwait
Starring: Joel Murray, Tara Lynne Barr

I greatly admire the message Bobcat Goldthwait delivers in his latest movie. Unfortunately, the recent shootings around our country make his delivery system a little hard to cope with. He gives us an everyman loser who is having migraines and can’t seem escape the stupidity of our voyeuristic, judgmental society. No one seems to see the flaws in the world he does, but in truth, we all do. We celebrate stupidity and meanness in our fascinations with reality television, politically divisive talk show hosts, and the highlighting of the worst news there is to be found in the world.

Eventually, this sad sack can’t take anymore, and he kills the spoiled rotten star of a reality television show not far removed from MTV’s “My Super Sweet 16”. One of her classmates witnesses the murder and wants to join him on a crusade to kill anyone who “deserves it” by contributing to the declining state of our society. The two take on Bonnie and Clyde personas, on the run from the law and leaving a trail of corpses, all culminating in a shooting spree at a live singing show that is a barely veiled version of “American Idol”.

It is a dark comedy with a grave emphasis on the dark. But, there are some very funny moments. It is almost too disturbing to watch at times, however. The biggest problem I had with it was that the protagonists’ solution of killing people is also a very real result of the same things the movie criticizes about our society. So in effect they are only contributing to the same problems they are railing against. I would’ve liked to see a little more emphasis on the fact that they were no better than the people they were killing, because their solution was no solution at all.

Goldthwait never really goes out of his way to point out their actions as wrong. That may be because those actions should seem wrong to any sane person, but in this society he’s criticizing, that is not necessarily the case. It’s an extreme view from a filmmaker who clearly has very powerful thoughts and a clear vision of what he wants to say. He just needs to be a little more judgmental against his protagonists.

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