God Bless America stars Bill Murray’s brother Joel as Frank. He’s the quintessential loser; divorced with a brattish kid, a dead-end job at an insurance company, revolting neighbours and a terminal illness to boot. He’s literally disgusted by the world he sees around him. Before taking his own life, he decides to fight back against the climate of meanness, rudeness and cruelty, by taking out some of the worst examples of reality tv excess. He’s joined in this quest by the quintessential Manic Pixie Dream Girl, a sharp-talking 16 year old who hates everything from Diablo Cody to Juno to High Fives. Together they cross the country, killing folks.
So God Bless America is kind of like the ultimate revenge fantasy, a spirited rejection of all the stupidity, bullshit, faux-outrage, pseudo-patriotism and contempt in popular culture. It reminded me of when I lived in Colorado, where the thing that shocked me most was the continual white-noise of banality, viciousness, perversity and unkindness in the media. God Bless America begins, with a montage of some lowlights of the (emotional) torture-porn culture (shouting, rudeness, tampons) and it gave me melacholic flashbacks of a path-not-followed (as well as swells of relief from not being trapped in that cycle.) God Bless America is literally a rage-against-the-machine, a bleak, bitterly wicked polemic against a brash culture of nastiness. Sometimes that makes it a bit preachy. Mostly it makes it ouch-funny.