Bobcat Goldthwait, returns with the third film in his
darker side of America trilogy after Sleeping Dogs
(2006) and The World's Greatest Dad (2009).
The first film dealt with the subject of bestiality (a
typical taboo subject), the latter film starring Robin
Williams had him as a would be author who is having to
suffer a job in a high school. After his son's
death, he writes his son's suicide note and the beauty
of the words allows him to be the celebrated writer he
always wanted to be. At the conclusion, the
writer gets a change of heart and comes clean.
Goldthwait may write dark but at least he has the
In his new film, he explores the polluting influence
of television and celebrity, and how it is
destabilising American society. Goldthwait uses
a surrogate in the form of Frank (Joel Murray), a man
who has a humdrum office job and spends his evenings
watching awful television whilst his child lives with
his ex-wife and new husband. Frank believes in
honesty, integrity and good manners in life will get
you rewards, in contrast to the mean-spirited
individuals who are celebrated for being nothing more
than being good to look at - 'Its a type of freak show
that appears when a civilisation is collapsing'.
Frank would wish he had the cajones to do something
about society and change it for the better, and his
initial dream sequences of shooting people he hates in
his office are quite entertaining - then he is hit by
the news that he has an inoperable brain tumour he
decides to go out on a vigilante rampage of revenge
against all the social cyphers he despises.
Frank comes into contact with 16 year old Roxy (Tara
Lynne Barr) and together they embark on this road trip
culminating in the shootout on American Superstars; a
Pop Idol/X-Factor show that is the main target.
Part of the problem with the film is the mixture of
tone; whilst the start has Frank giving off monologues
and dialogue that is quite explicit in his
beliefs - 'I live next door to a couple of
neanderthals, who instead of giving birth to a baby
gave birth to a nocturnal civil defense air raid
siren'. However, once the violent streak begins
with Roxy in tow, the targets become all too easy -
Twitter, gossiping, lack of original thoughts - and
whilst the targets are mentioned by real name to give
a sense of reality, the non-stop violence and obvious
buckets of blood are quite unnecessary.
It is quite hypocritical to suggest that Frank hates
all the television shows, when he is watching them in
the first place, although maybe this is Goldthwait's
point; there is nothing but constant crap on
television. This is a shame as at times Murray,
clearly a surrogate for Goldthwait in the lead role,
is quite believable as the hound dog Frank.
Murray has been appearing on American TV for years
most notably Dharma and Greg and Mad Men; yet it is
the role of Roxy that is quite disconcerting - a role
that is unfortunately too zany for the film and too
off the rails in comparison to Frank. Frank is
beyond medical help, Roxy is beyond any perhaps.
The film might have worked better if Frank was a lone
crusader, a distant cousin of Michael Douglas' D-Fens
in Falling Down (1993), one man who is just simply
having a bad time of things and wants to make the
world a little bit more polite and gracious.
The problem with tone is a common problem with
Goldthwait who never goes all the way with his satire,
and has to come round to normality; a shame as some of
the ideas he has Frank speak for him in the first 20
minutes had laid the foundation for something more
God Bless America is out from StudioCanal on Wednesday
4th July (Independence Day) and is available on DVD on
Monday 9th July 2012.