God Bless America (R)
Darko Entertainment; Dread Central; IMDb; Magnet Releasing; Rotten Tomatoes; TV Tropes; Wikipedia
I originally chose to list this movie under "badass," but when I later created a category for B-movies, I moved the review there. However, I always felt I could just as well have put my review under "comedy," or "weird," or "serio-comedy," or maybe "film noir," or even "quirky" or "art." It's also a message movie, sort of. I think it's very clever, and fun, though obviously very over-the-top. It's kind of a wish fulfillment movie, or at least... it can be sort of cathartic or something, to live vicariously through the main characters, who do things that clearly no one should ever do. But for all the film's moralizing, mostly it's just fun ultraviolence.
So, there's this middle-aged guy named Frank, who lives in a crappy apartment with asshole neighbors who make lots of noise and stuff. Which is bad because Frank has migraines and insomnia. Also he's divorced, and has a young daughter who lives with his ex-wife. The kid doesn't want to come visit him because she thinks he's boring. And she's a horribly spoiled little brat. And pretty much every channel on TV, and every radio station, is full of moronic assholes who only seem capable of mocking others and spouting all kinds of hate. And everyone in the world seems to like those shows, including the people where Frank works. And then he gets fired for sexual harassment, when he was obviously just being friendly. And then he finds out he has a brain tumor. Oh, and his doctor is an asshole, too. Even before all that stuff happened, we learned that Frank fantasizes about shooting all the assholes in his life, though he thinks it's not normal to fantasize about murder. Personally, I think he's the sanest person in the film. How can any sane person not occasionally fantasize about such things?
Anyway, when he's at his lowest point, he takes out a gun and is about to kill himself. But then he has a sort of epiphany, I guess. There's this incredibly spoiled rich bitch named Chloe on TV, planning her “sweet 16” party, completely dissatisfied with her parents and with pretty much all the awesome stuff she has. So rather than kill himself, Frank steals his asshole neighbor's car, and drives to the woods outside Chloe's school. When he gets a chance the next day, he kills her. Then he goes to a motel room, where he's once again ready to kill himself. But a girl from Chloe's school named Roxy, who had witnessed the murder, shows up. She's super excited about what Frank did, she thinks it's the best thing ever. She talks him out of killing himself, because she believes there are so many other people in the world who deserve to die. (She definitely has a much broader idea of what sort of behavior warrants death than Frank does.) Frank is hesitant at first, but before long the two of them embark on a major killing spree, which quickly becomes a fairly casual lark. Throughout the movie, there's also some relatively erudite moralizing from Frank, and to an extent from Roxy. They're both definitely intelligent, and witty. Of course, while I hate a lot of the same things as Frank, and some of the same things as Roxy, I'm actually a fan of some of the things Roxy hates. But I still find her hatred of those things amusing. I should also mention that Frank and Roxy frequently disagree about various things, but the friendship that develops between them is still fun to watch, and rather sweet, in its own twisted way.
Um... and of course I need to reiterate that the way Frank and Roxy deal with the people they hate is completely wrong, and not something I could possibly condone on any level. But at the same time, the people they hate are also completely wrong, and while I don't think they deserve to die, I do think they deserve to have something bad done to them. I have no idea what, aside from being stripped of their fame and material wealth. Ideally, they could all be educated to see what's wrong with them, but I'm pretty sure that's not actually possible. I do not believe their brains have the capacity to understand what is wrong with their own behavior and attitudes. And what's worse, as Frank himself laments, rather than having anyone try to educate them in the error of their ways, our culture actually celebrates all that's bad about them, as if it was good. So I guess the assholes aren't completely to blame... except of course that it's not just celebrity assholes who are the problem. I'm certainly not saying that anyone who enjoys watching reality TV, for example, are themselves stupid or bad. Probably a lot of the fans of assholes are assholes themselves, but there are also decent, reasonably intelligent people who enjoy such entertainment. I cannot begin to fathom how that is possible, but I know it to be so. But there are definitely stupid assholes from every walk of life, from rich to poor and everything in between. So... whatever, Frank and Roxy are technically guilty not only of murder, but of sort of becoming like all those other assholes. I mean, not exactly, but... they kill people they hate, whereas they basically hate people because those people hate other people, for no good reason. At least Frank has a reason for his hate. (Roxy not so much, I mean she just seems to be deranged... but still cool and smart and funny and I like her even when I disagree with her.) So, it's all complicated. Basically everyone in the world sucks, including everyone who doesn't suck. No, wait....
Sigh. I'm overthinking it. I hate overthinking things all the time, but it can't be helped. This movie isn't going to change the world. It's entirely probable that some people who are exactly like the assholes Frank and Roxy kill will watch the movie and root for Frank and Roxy, completely oblivious to the fact that they themselves would deserve to die, by Frank and Roxy's logic. Assholes are just going to keep being assholes, and thinking they're nice and that the people who are actually nice are assholes. So really, it's pointless to try to analyze the movie or derive some message from it. Really all it's good for is living vicariously. Watch Frank and Roxy kill people you wish someone would kill (even if you don't really want to kill them, yourself). Nod your head at Frank's moralizing. Laugh at all the dark humor. Just have fun, and let your fantasy bloodlust be quenched without having to do anything insane, yourself. Yay.