Combustible Celluloid
 
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With: Joel Murray, Tara Lynne Barr, Aris Alvarado, Maddie Hasson
Written by: Bobcat Goldthwait
Directed by: Bobcat Goldthwait
MPAA Rating: R for strong violence and language including some sexual sequences
Running Time: 105
Date: 09/09/2011
IMDB

God Bless America (2012)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Increasing Reality

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Bobcat Goldthwait, who achieved fame in the 1980s with his standup comedy and his roles in the Police Academy movies, has now re-invented himself as a maker of potent black comedies, and ferocious commentaries on the withering of the American Dream. His last, World's Greatest Dad, was brilliant and brutal, and God Bless America is its equal.

Frank (Joel Murray) suffers from insomnia and migraines, loses his job (for trying to be nice to a receptionist), and is diagnosed with a brain tumor. While watching vulgar, stupid, extreme reality TV, news, and commercials, he decides to kill himself. But before he can squeeze the trigger, he notices a reality show about a spoiled teen girl, "Chloe," and decides to kill her instead. His deed attracts the admiration and gratitude of one of Chloe's classmates, Roxy (Tara Lynne Barr), and the unlikely pair goes on a killing spree, planning to rid America of all the annoying reality stars, talk show hosts, and other spreaders of stupidity and hatred.

It's a movie for anyone that has ever rolled their eyes at "American Idol" and the like. Whereas World's Greatest Dad had a great performance by Robin Williams in the lead, Joel Murray -- briefly seen as a policeman in The Artist -- brings a wry, touching quality to his role in the new film. Goldthwait has a knack for pushing the lines between appealing characters and appalling situations. Just when it seems like the movie is about to go too far, it changes direction and gets back on track. Murray carries the burden of this balance, and he pulls it off. The movie has the courage of its convictions all the way up to the closing credits.

The Blu-ray release from Magnet/Magnolia features a top-quality transfer, which is great if you first watched it on iTunes (like me). It comes with an entertaining commentary track by Goldthwait, Murray, and Barr, a half-hour making-of featurette, extra "reality TV" footage, outtakes, interviews, an HDNet featurette, a music video, and trailers.

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