Sunday, August 5, 2012


Wouldn’t it be fun if there was a carnival shooting gallery where they had floating ducks named “Democrat” and “Republican,” along with slightly smaller targets called “hippie communist” and “angry right wing talk show host.”
If that thought makes your trigger finger itchy, you are the audience for Bobcat Goldthwait’s satirical cinema therapy, “God Bless America” now playing at the Loft Cinema, 3233 E. Speedway Blvd.
When the protagonist Frank is played by Bill Murray’s brother Joel (who does create a very sympathetic shmoo) and his accomplice is Roxy a perky high school kid (Tara Lynne Barr) in the eccentric mold of the hit movie character Juno – well, let the fun begin.
Although “God Bless America” is thinly plotted and superficially written -- really it’s just a 104-minute Saturday Night Live skit -- the satisfaction afterward is worth at least the price of a matinee ticket. Who wouldn’t love to put a bullet through that thoughtless cell phone user who disturbs your restaurant meal or – Heaven forbid – your movie.
It is quite amusing to imagine less culturally aware couples who see that title “God Bless America” listed in the movie times and go buy tickets expecting a conservative feel-good flick.
Goldthwait couldn’t be a more left-leaning writer and director. He includes a few scenes with white-knuckled rants written just like his own comedy performances. Some of his personal favorite targets are Tea Party fanatics, spoiled teens on TV shows, the politically correct and all shades of self-righteous trend setters.
Frank has always been polite and thoughtful, consequently getting nowhere in his life or his career. His daughter hates him. His ex-wife is about to marry a handsome policeman.
He learns he has a fatal brain tumor on the same day he gets fired for sending a cheerful bouquet of flowers to the office receptionist. She considered his act of kindness to be sexual harassment.
There is also the hateful young married couple with the baby who cries all night every night. They live in the other half of Frank’s duplex, separated only by one thin wall.
All this gets set up fairly quickly and Frank is about to commit suicide when he decides, if he is going to die anyway, he might as well take out a few of his own enemies along the way. The obnoxious TV programming that’s pumped into his brain daily is a major influence on Frank’s choice of victims.
Roxy shares many of Frank’s frustrations. Though Roxy is still a high school teen, she’s a precocious one who encourages Frank to keep finding new targets. As a team they become a post-modern Bonnie and Clyde (but without the sex, and lots more killing).

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