August 22, 2012

Justify My Netflix: God Bless America

(Like many Netflix customers, I too can get quite lax with the timely watching and returning of my movies, which of course defeats the entire purpose of having a flat-rate rental plan in the first place. To combat that, I am now writing standardized mini-reviews of each and every movie I end up watching through Netflix, both instantly and on DVD. Don't forget, all previous 'Justify My Netflix' reviews can be found on CCLaP's main movie page.)

God Bless America

Today's movie: God Bless America, 2011 (Amazon | IMDB | Netflix | Wikipedia)

Why I added it to my queue: Because this is the latest by cheesy comedian turned subversive filmmaker Bobcat Goldthwait, an ultra-black fairytale about a terminal cancer patient who decides to take out as many empty reality TV stars as he can before he dies himself, and the sociopathic teenage girl who becomes his killing-spree partner.

The reality: Uneven but still great! And that's because, for those of us who are fans, Bobcat Goldthwait's new career as a bleakly black-comedy filmmaker is one of the greatest secrets of the mainstream world right now; for while he's managing to secure millions of dollars for his productions and has been enticing such stars as Robin Williams, the films themselves contain some of the most cringe-inducing premises ever seen in a Hollywood production (2006's Sleeping Dogs Lie, for example, is a relationship comedy about a new couple who decide to share all their past secrets with each other, thrown into crisis when the wife admits that in college she once impulsively performed oral sex on a dog just to see what it was like; while 2009's World's Greatest Dad is about a frustrated writer whose truly horrible son accidentally kills himself through autoerotic asphyxiation, after which the dad writes a phony "Tuesdays with Morrie" style inspirational journal in his name that vaults him into the national spotlight). And so it is with God Bless America as well, which very plainly and by name calls for the violent deaths of such people as the Kardashians, the American Idol judges, and anyone who has ever been on a "Real Housewives" show, and that basically indicts the entirety of the American public for letting our country reach the low point it's currently at, not just the people guilty of the dumbing-down but those of us who didn't protest more, who let this nadir happen simply through our passive tolerance of such crap. Now, let's make no mistake, there are some serious problems with this film as well -- Goldthwait has a bad habit of including lots of long, tedious monologues, bitter screeds that sound like he came up with them at three in the morning while angry at the entire planet, plus the movie's tone veers wildly from satire to earnestness, sometimes from one scene right to the next, plus the actual plot is a real mess, something that doesn't even begin to hold up to the muster of a good three-act structure. But for sheer audacity, as well as the sheer number of fist-pumping "Yeah, that's right!" moments as a viewer, it's hard to beat the brilliantly transgressive things that Goldthwait is managing to get away with in his films these days, a lone spark of sanity in a Hollywood that mostly seems to be completely and utterly out of control these days. It comes recommended in that spirit, although I'll warn you now, be prepared for some of the darkest material you have ever seen in a mainstream creative project.

Worth your time? Yes, if you're a fan of black comedies

Filed by Jason Pettus at 10:34 AM, August 22, 2012. Filed under: Movies | Reviews |