‘God Bless’ This Satire

Courtesy of Magnolia Pictures

If there’s anything I’ve grown to hate over the past few years, it’s the downward spiral that the American popular culture scene has taken. For a while, I’ve been waiting for a bold filmmaker, especially one that has previous experience as a satirist to end up making a movie on the subject. Thankfully, one has been able to take on the controversial challenge of doing so, and the film “God Bless America” turns out as one of the most defining satires of our time.

Frank (Joel Murray) is a middle-aged man who is down on his luck. He has a job that’s been run over by ignorant and annoying co-workers, and he’s divorced from his wife and profoundly ignorant daughter. However, Frank has grown to hate the realms of human society because of them being influenced by the insipid and dumbfounded pop culture of the current generation.

He’s soon diagnosed with a brain tumor, and he makes it his mission to rid the world of people who’ve had their personalities influenced by the negative aspects of pop culture. Along the way, he’s accompanied by Roxy, a young high school student (Tara Lynne Barr) who equally shares his distaste for the downfall in society.

When reading a premise like that, some may view it as something that’s too extreme to even be put up on screen, but this film isn’t an instruction manual on why you should hate America. Instead, it’s a truthful satire that displays the issues that exist within society, but still isn’t afraid to have a lot of darkly comedic, energetic fun with it.

The two leads, Joel Murray and Tara Lynne Barr, both deliver terrific performances as Frank and Roxy. Murray’s approach to Frank is extremely subtle, and the way he delivers several of his rants on society flow in such a supremely natural manner. Standing alongside Murray, Tara Lynne Barr enhances a huge amount of frenetic energy to the character of Roxy, who ends up turning into a psychotic sidekick, spewing one-liners left and right in addition to venting out her frustration toward certain pop culture obsessions through the film.

The real star of this film, though, is writer and director Bobcat Goldthwait. Goldthwait is one of those few filmmakers working today who tackles subjects in dark comedies that just about nobody else would’ve ever had the guts to follow through on, utilizing both satire and social commentary for whichever issues he constructs into his films. Watch his previous effort, “World’s Greatest Dad,” and you’ll see what I’m talking about. Essentially, this movie is Goldthwait’s manifesto about the downfall of American popular culture and the effect it has had on how humans treat each other.

Overall, “God Bless America” is an outlandish and insanely unapologetic film that serves as the best revenge fantasy for those that detest the pop culture obsessions of this generation. Yes, it has no rules and gets very over-the-top at times, but it’s still one of the smartest dark satires I’ve seen in a long time.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5