Bobcat Goldthwait's 'God Bless America' [TIFF Review]

Bobcat Goldthwait has been pushing the line of political correctness over the years: Sleeping Dogs Lie told the story of a guy who learns his girlfriend has had sexual relations with a dog, World's Greatest Dad was about a man who uses the freak accidental death of his son to gain local fame as the ghost author of his son's posthumous journal. His latest film, which Bobcat said completes a trilogy of sorts, pushes the line even further.

After learning that he has brain cancer, Frank (played by Joel Murray of Mad Men, Shamelss) decides go out in a blaze of glory. A rebellious teenager named Roxy (Tara Lynne Barr) joins him on his crosscountry journey to rid America of all that is wrong with the country. I hate to tell you any more about the plot, as I feel it is better experienced as a discovery. I'm worried that the inevitable trailer will have to give too much away, and spoil much of the shocking surprises and laugh out loud moments.

God Bless America is not only a biting deconstruction of American culture, but a pitch-black comedy that is crude, violent and intelligent. The Natural Born Killers/Bonnie and Clyde-style rampage takes shocking political cues from Fight Club's Project Mayhem and features a smart ass-kicking young female sidekick ala Kick-ass/Super.

The film is a hilariously passionate rant which has somehow been adapted into a narrative storyline. It might not work as a piece of great filmmaking, but it definitely works as great entertainment and a passionate takedown of contemporary pop and political culture. The film has some pacing issues in the second half of the second act, but I'm sure that could be fixed once the final edit is in the can.

The film is an attack against the likes of Bill O'Reilly, Fox News, stupid moronic reality shows like Jackass, My Super Sweet 16, TMZ and American Idol, morning shows, the rudeness of the current generation (including but not limited to talking and texting in movie theaters), the reliance on cellphones and screens over human connection, and the recently developed cruel take-down culture of laughing and making fun of those less fortunate and making them into stars (William Hung, Rebecca Black).

Some may find the film too preachy or the topics too cheap/obvious, but Frank's rants were met with a dozen moments of applause by the audience at Ryerson theatre. The film  played more like a church sermon than a traditional feature film.

In his introduction to the film, Bobcat said that "This movie really is for sale. This is not some Red State bullshit," refering to Kevin Smith's fake auction and decision to self distribute at Sundance. I'm not sure how Richard Kelly and Darko Entertainment raised the funds for such an ambitious counter-culture film, but I hope some distributor has the guts to pick it up and give it a proper release.