The dark comedy God Bless America feeds on disgust with pop culture, but also takes aim at its audience.
Who hasn't been there? You're sitting on the couch late at night, too tired to get up and go to bed, too lazy to change the channel, and suddenly you're watching some program that displays the lower demons of our nature: spoiled teenagers throwing fits about their parents buying them the "wrong" car, news commentators spewing hatred, entertainment shows feeding off our tendency to obsess over the public failings of celebrities. Faced with proudly packaged evidence of our collective cultural decline, you think to yourself, "Man, would I ever like to lock one of these people in their car and stuff a flaming rag into their gas tank."
OK, perhaps your frustration doesn't go that far. But that's exactly what Frank (Joel Murray, a familiar character actor who shines in his first lead role here), the "hero" of Bobcat Goldthwait's new God Bless America, is thinking. But before violently fantasizing about the figures on his TV screen, the constant noise of the boorish residents of the apartment next door inspires him to dream of taking a shotgun to all three of them, incessantly screaming infant included. Frank's reverie—which includes the image of exploded baby parts showering the mother who had held up her child as a human shield—is an efficient introduction of the dark, unrelenting violence that is to follow. But this is no simple wish-fulfillment revenge fantasy. It's an indictment of us as viewers and tacit supporters of the cultural trash heap.