‘God Bless America’ DVD Review: Justified Violence and an Adorable Sidekick

Sarah Jakubowski July 10, 2012 1
‘God Bless America’ DVD Review: Justified Violence and an Adorable Sidekick
  • Plot
  • Acting
  • Character Development
  • Dialogue
Director: Bobcat Goldthwait
Producer:  Jeff Culotta
Actors: Joel Murray, Tara Lynne Barr, Maddie Hasson, Mackenzie Brooke Smith, Melinda Page Hamilton
Writer: Bobcat Goldthwait
Music: Matt Kollar
Editing: Jason Stewart

Frank (Joel Murray) is a man who has had enough — enough of reality TV, enough of his noisy neighbors, enough of people who talk in movie theaters. He’s fed up with excessive technology that depletes civilization. When his doctor diagnoses him with a terminal brain tumor, he decides he’s fed up with life, too. At the last minute, with his TV on and his gun in hand, he wonders if he’s aiming in the right direction. Wouldn’t it make more sense to point the gun at every rude and ignorant person who brought him to this state? Add perky and equally disillusioned highschooler Roxy (Tara Lynne Barr) and you’ll witness a crime spree you won’t soon forget.

The Good

The Cast

If anyone but Joel Murray played Frank the character probably would have come off as an entitled jerk with a vendetta. I mean, it is really really difficult for an audience to root for the protagonists when they’re the ones causing bloodshed. But Murray comes off as tired and honest and working for the greater good. He’s angry without being malicious, sad without being pathetic.

Throughout the movie, I kept asking myself, who is that girl? Tara Lynne Barr, who played Roxy, seemed way too good, way too natural to be an unknown name. She’s had some minor roles in Nickelodeon and Disney television shows as well as some notable stage roles including Annie in Annie and Alice in Wonderland, but this is her first movie appearance. I’d be very surprised if this is the last we see of her. Her character, Roxy, is fun, tough and surprising, a little bit like the girls in Zombieland. She’s absolutely adorable without coming off as too sexy or too girlish. Murray and Barr work together wonderfully to create an endearing father-daughter type relationship.

A nod goes out to Maddie Hasson for her portrayal as reality TV teen brat Chloe. Chloe is the horrible spoiled rich-girl everyone loves to hate and Hasson nails it.

Fun fact: One of the bit characters is listed in the credits as “pancake eating pedophile”.  So, really, it’s worth watching the movie just to see that gem.

The Premise

I‘m not a big fan of violence, but was still excited about God Bless America. It was nice to see a film where people weren’t needlessly shooting at each other for personal or monetary gain, nice that there wasn’t pointless glorification of villains and heroes. For a movie about a Bonnie and Clyde style killing spree, it was really quite refreshing.

The Bad

The Dialogue

I feel like we could have done with less of Frank’s long-winded speeches and explanations. Moderation in all things: It’s good that we got to hear him rant some, but it’s not necessary for every other scene to be a lengthy tirade. After a while, the dialogue started to sound like someone’s particularly opinionated and self-righteous Facebook page. At one point, Frank described a talk show personality as “bitter and predictable” and I thought, “Look in a mirror.”

The Irony

Like I said in ‘The Good’, I’m glad that there was reason behind the violence and that the characters were likable enough to pull it off. However, there’s something about protesting noise and violence with more noise and violence that just seems off.

Overall: 3 out of 5 Stars

Buy it, Rent it, or Skip it?

Whether to buy, to rent, or to skip, really depends on what you’re looking for in a movie. If you want to be intellectually challenged or to witness a masterpiece of emotion, then this one’s probably not for you. However, I can definitely picture it filling a niche: if you’re with friends and have maybe had a beer or two and are halfheartedly either mourning civilization’s demise or are contemplating world takeover, then you might want to pop this one in.

‘God Bless America’ Movie Trailer

    • http://randomfilmbuff.com/ alleyandthemovies

      Brilliant film. Honest and real, something’s that is truly missing in movies these days.