- Last Updated: 2:01 PM, May 11, 2012
- Posted: 11:19 PM, May 10, 2012
GOD BLESS AMERICA
Flawed execution. Running time: 107 minutes. Rated R (violence, language, sexual situations). At the Landmark Sunshine, Houston Street at First Avenue.
‘Why have a civilization if we’re no longer interested in being civilized?” That’s the core of Bobcat Goldthwait’s rant masquerading as a feature film, and a lot of it is pretty easy to get onboard with. Americans, the comic-turned-director contends, have degenerated into a bunch of narcissistic boors mouth-breathing their way through life: sitting in front of screens, absorbing cruel and stupid entertainment, grunting assent or, more frequently, insults. (Mike Judge’s “Idiocracy” saw this fate as at least a distant future; Goldthwait maintains we’re already living it.)
“No one has any shame anymore!” laments Frank (Joel Murray), a divorced schlub who’s sick of listening to his neighbors yammer on about reality TV while ignoring their screaming baby. In a bloody fantasy, he goes “Dirty Harry” on all three, igniting a mental spark that really catches fire when, in one day, he’s let go from his job and finds out he’s got a brain tumor (the prognosis delivered by a doc who can’t stop checking his cellphone).
Frank snaps in dramatic fashion, hunting down and blowing away Chloe (Maddie Hasson), a teen reality star known for an on-camera meltdown over getting the wrong brand of luxury car for her birthday.
The murder earns him high marks from Roxy (Christina Ricci look-alike Tara Lynne Barr), a contrarian classmate of Chloe’s who urges Frank to think up other deserving targets — and let her help take them out.
The (stringently platonic) duo rampages around the country, doling out death sentences to hate-mongering fundamentalists, pedophilic men, people who talk in the movies, parents who spoil their kids rotten, xenophobic pundits and anyone involved with the singing competition “American Superstarz.”
Coinciding with the George Zimmerman saga probably isn’t going to do this trigger-happy satire any favors, though any reasonable viewer should get that it’s not a literal call to arms. The real problem is there’s just not enough plot on which to hang the message that mean people suck.
There are so many monologues about obnoxious behavior that they begin to lose their luster — something I’d never have thought possible. Goldthwait’s complaints become increasingly trivial (“people who high five”?), to the point where you stop nodding, and start checking your watch.