Thursday, August 9, 2012
God Bless America Review
In my Iron Sky review I talked about how I think having political undertones and such in your movie is okay as long as its subtle or clever and doesn't take away from the characters, story, and such of the movie. That is a statement I will stand by..
Some movies are all about politics though, like Michael Moore films. And in documentaries and such I understand. But in a fictional film where the point is the story and the focus should be on characters and making the audience like them, having amazingly ham-fisted and blatantly obvious political overtones can alienate audience members or, in my case, completely destroy my enjoyment of a movie.
I have seen one other film by Bobcat Goldthwait, that is World's Greatest Dad. And I liked it quite a bit, I thought Robin Williams was brilliant, and I thought the funny moments worked for the most part and the dramatic moments worked too. Point is, for the most part I really liked that movie, I thought it was a very well made movie about the lengths a parent would go to for his child.
God Bless America is the fifth movie written and directed by Goldthwait, and completely unlike World's Greatest Dad, I cannot stand this movie. I understand what he was trying to do, I really really do. Underline the point about how America has lost its way and has descended into paying attention to horrible people doing horrible things. I get it America is deteriorating because of how it worships terrible people and because of how people have become increasingly pop culture obsessed in stead of getting a job or whatever.
Its not really the subject matter that bothers me, although the movie does come off as very America hating, its how Goldthwait goes about telling the story and who he tries to make us identify with. The film starts with Frank (Joel Murray) living in a crappy apartment next door to a douchebag, hsi annoying wife and their non-stop crying baby. The first scene is a scene where Frank imagines him shooting the man and the baby with a shotgun and he smiles about it. That's not a very good way to introduce us to a character that we're supposed to like. And we are supposed to like him by the way, it isn't one of those movie where a psychopath is the main character so you can see what goes through their mind, like I Saw the Devil, we're supposed to like Frank and cheer him on during his horrible murdering spree. Anyway he is diagnosed with a brain tumor and fired from his job for sending flowers to a female co-worker who was having a bad day, Frank then kills an obnoxious teenager (one of the Sweet 16 girls) and it is witnessed by Roxy (Tara Lynne Barr). She then convinces Frank to go on a vicious killing spree with her, basically killing anyone they don't like or agree with. That's pretty much the rest of the movie.
I understand what this movie is trying to do, its all a political point about the downfall of America. I get it. But do the main characters really have to be so horrible and unlikeable? They don't come off really as people trying to make some sort of point, although they constantly try and say they're making a point, they come off as psychopaths. And again, I'm, not opposed to having a psychopath a mian character (again pointing out I Saw the Devil), but this movie tries to make you emphasize with Frank and Roxy like they're doing the right thing. At no point does the movie come out and say that what Frank and Roxy are doing is wrong. In fact the film makes it seem like what they're doing is right. In understand that its also an attempt at black humor because that's Bobcat Goldthwait's thing, and while it worked in World's Greatest Dad, that's because although we didn't like his son, we like robin Williams character because he was a good guy trying to defend his son because at the end of the day no matter how terrible of a person his son was he was still his son and he loved him. That worked because Williams' character was a good person. Not so in God Bless America, the two leads are horrible despicable people.
The actors are okay I guess, they do their job well and the directing is pretty good, but its really the writing that just completely destroys this movie. For example: the movie tries to paint Republicans as horrible selfish people who are completely unfair to the opposite point of view. Ok that's someone's opinion and I respect it, but at the same time, the two main characters are liberals and are killing Republicans because they don't agree with how they act. Do you get the point I'm trying to make? I get that maybe it was some sort of attempt at saying that both parties are full of horrible people, and that would of worked if, again, the movie didn't try and paint Frank and Roxy as the good guys. Through the whole movie Frank is painted as the good guy, but he isn't a good guy, even in his own horrible moral world he isn't a good person because alot of the people he kills, especially in the last scene, are just people doing their job, trying to make a living and he kills them just because they're there.
Besides politics, the rest of the people in the film that Frank and Roxy kill are jerks. I guess that's another point about the movie, to try and be nicer to other people. Which is a sentiment I can get behind. But the movie is very juvenile in the way it tackles the subject matter. Basically is someones a jerk, kill them. And while yes there have been times where someone was being a jerk to me and I wished I could have killed them, I would have never had done it. Because as soon as I stopped and thought about it I realized I would be the better person if I just ignored them and didn't let it get to me. Giving jerks attention is what makes them jerks. They figure if people pay attention to them when they act like that, why not act like that all the time? Also, at some point in your life you have to realize that no matter how bad you may want them dead, jerks are always going to be there, its just a part of life, some people are just mean spirited people. The best you can do is rise above them and be a better person, ruthlessly gunning them down in a movie theater isn't being a better person.
I hate this movie. I understand what Goldthwait was trying to do, but they way he went about doing it was, I think, completely wrong. It comes off as shallow and self centered. And although Goldthwait tries to make a statement about technology and how it is ruining America, there is no cleverness to it. Its very blunt about, like he's saying it because he doesn't understand the technology, basically he comes off as that old man on his lawn yelling "You darn kids". This movie isn't, clever, funny, or entertaining and I cannot stand it.