God Bless America

A few days ago, I posted video here of Bill Murray, on the first episode of Late Night with David Letterman. I have no way of knowing how many people took my advice and watched the clip, which was absolutely brilliant, but it only garnered one comment. (Someone, making the case that he was still cool, now thirty years later, posted video of Murray working a shift behind the bart at a place in Austin.) Well, I’ve got a hunch that this trailer, for his brother’s new movie, will illicit more that one comment. Here, before I share the video, is the synopsis from IMDB:

Loveless, jobless, possibly terminally ill, Frank has had enough of the downward spiral of America. With nothing left to lose, Frank takes his gun and offs the stupidest, cruelest, and most repellent members of society. He finds an unusual accomplice: 16-year-old Roxy, who shares his sense of rage and disenfranchisement.

Bill Murray’s brother Joel plays Frank… And, I should add, the movie, which is called God Bless America, was written and directed by Bobcat Goldthwait, the man behind such unsettlingly dark comedies as Shakes the Clown, Sleeping Dogs Lie, and World’s Greatest Dad.

Here’s the trailer:

I was struggling with words to describe it when I happened across the following description on Metafilter… Someone said it was like “Falling Down meets Juno.”

I’d like to offer more in the way of thoughtful analysis on this, but I think I’m going to leave it to the rest of you this time. You see, I’m trying to take a break from things that I think may feed into my depression and anxiety. Once every few years or so, I find myself slipping into a worse than normal place, and I’m trying, as best as I can, to turn things around before they get too difficult to manage. That means forgoing right wing talk radio, in favor of classical music, eating more vegetables than burgers, and spending more time swimming and running than reading news about the Republican primary. And, for that reason, I don’t think I want to spend too much time getting inside of Bob Goldthwait’s head right now, and exploring the righteous anger that he clearly feels toward American popular culture. I think it’s certainly worth discussing… don’t get me wrong… I just don’t feel up to watching the trailer again and being a part of the bloody retribution fantasy at the moment… No, I’m going to spend my night listening to lovely old jazz records from the 20s and 30s.

Here, for those of you who want more, is a bit of an interview with Goldthwait that ran a few months ago on SanDiego.com.

What can you tell me about God Bless America?
Bobcat Goldthwait: It’s funny, the other day I showed it to my friends and I was really surprised that they were all kind of shocked by it. I think people think it’s a vigilante movie where this character goes out and starts killing reality stars. I mean that’s a little part of it, but it’s also kind of about where are we going and the culture and basically the dumbest members of our society. Sometimes when I hear myself giving interviews I want to punch myself in the throat, because I’m like, ‘Really, this is the dude from Police Academy pontificating about where are we going as a society, blah, blah, blah.’

Well, I think a lot of people often forget how young you were when you filmed the Police Academy movies.
Bobcat Goldthwait: Yeah, I was in my early 20’s when I did those movies, but I really didn’t know I’d be talking about this for the rest of my life, I think I probably would’ve worked harder.

I grew up in the 80’s and all the films you were in are a huge part of my youth culture. I really loved Scrooged.
Bobcat Goldthwait: I was really excited when we made Scrooged because it was kind of neat knowing that I’d be in a movie that would be on every Christmas.

What actors are you working with in God Bless America?
Bobcat Goldthwait: It’s funny that we’re talking about Scrooged, because Joel Murray, who’s Bill’s brother is in it; Joel’s a very talented actor. The rest of the cast are people that we either found or are my friends. The young girl in the movie is named Tara Lynn Barr and she has been on a bunch of Disney shows, but I don’t think they’ll have her back on after this movie…

[Note: The best thing about that Metafilter conversation I linked to above, is that it tipped me off the existence of FDR American Badass.]

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  1. Posted February 7, 2012 at 10:35 pm | Permalink

    And before friends and loved ones start worrying about my mental health, I should say that things aren’t that bad. I’ve just been having more panic attacks than I’d like. I suspect, however, that can be remedied with more sleep, less computer time, and more exercise. I’ve certainly lived through worse in the past. I just want to nip it in the bud this time.

  2. Alicia
    Posted February 8, 2012 at 9:27 am | Permalink

    I can’t read articles on climate change for the same reason. And I sure as hell didn’t see “Inconvenient Truth.” Stay afloat, my friend. Your family needs you

  3. Edward
    Posted February 8, 2012 at 9:40 am | Permalink

    Having not seen the movie, I probably shouldn’t comment. From the trailer, though, I think I can get a pretty good sense of where Goldthwait is coming from. I’m having a hard time, though, finding the words to convey what it is that I’m thinking. It’s confusing. Here he is making a piece of vile, disgusting trash in order to comment on how terrible it is that America is awash in vile, disgusting trash. It’s so meta that it hurts my head.

  4. suswhit
    Posted February 8, 2012 at 9:40 am | Permalink

    That looks disturbingly awesome. But what I really want to say is this. I had no idea that guy was Bill Murray’s brother. Never would have guessed.

  5. Eel
    Posted February 8, 2012 at 9:50 am | Permalink

    I have no idea of knowing if Bobcat approached any other Murrays to play this part before settling on Joel, but you have to wonder if he ran the script by Bill, Brian Doyle, or any of the other Murray siblings. (I believe that four sons in the family act.)

    Is there a Murray Scale that’s discussed in Hollywood? Can the quality of film can be judged by how far down the Murray Scale a producer has to go?

  6. Eel
    Posted February 8, 2012 at 9:52 am | Permalink

    I just checked IMDB and it looks as though Joel Murray was in Shakes the Clown. He played a milkman. So, I guess that he and Bobcat could be friends.

  7. Mr. X
    Posted February 8, 2012 at 9:59 am | Permalink

    You have to pay for it now, but Marc Maron did a really good interview with Goldthwait not too long ago. I don’t recall that they talked about his film, but they talked quite a bit about his earlier films, his history in stand-up, and his unique worldview.


  8. erp
    Posted February 8, 2012 at 12:25 pm | Permalink



  9. Elf
    Posted February 8, 2012 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

    Would have been better if the part of the girl was played by a young Natalie Portman.

  10. Eel
    Posted February 8, 2012 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

    Is Ruth Gordon still alive? If so, I’d like to see her in the lead with a young boy who looks like Bud Court.

    Harold and Maude would have been awesome with guns.

  11. Jules
    Posted February 8, 2012 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

    As to nipping it in the bud, Mark, it sounds like you know what you need to do (and not do), so just do it (and not do it). Like just about everyone else, I didn’t know that actor is a Murray bro! I enjoyed him on Shameless. I watched the trailer and sorry, but when they got to the kids talking in the theater, I laughed. I now think I have to see this.

  12. Mr. X
    Posted February 8, 2012 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

    If you haven’t seen it, you’d like Serial Mom too, Jules.

  13. Mr. X
    Posted February 8, 2012 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

    I think Ruth Gordon is dead, but how about Ruth Buzzi and Justin Bieber taking over the roles of Ruth Gordon and Bud Court? Wouldn’t that be incredible?

  14. Jeff Meyers
    Posted February 8, 2012 at 8:43 pm | Permalink

    I saw GOD BLESS AMERICA at the Toronto Film Festival and it was… well… impassioned, I guess. There were a few good jokes and some of the commentary hit home but the targets were too easy, and some of the references were dated (Mary Kay LaTourneau?)

    Here’s what I wrote while covering the festival:

    GOD BLESS AMERICA – Bob Goldthwait’s “World’s Greatest Dad” was a transgressive, black-hearted fable that had real moments of greatness (including a superlative performance by Robin Williams) despite an occasionally clumsy script. His newest, a TIFF Midnight Madness feature, definitely drew the crowds… a near sell-out at the 1500 seat Ryerson Theater. Goldthwait wait warmed things up (he’s still very funny) making the point that his film was just completed a few days ago and is still for sale – “not like that “Red State” crap he promised. Warning the audience that he intended to pull no punches, he admitted “this could be my Springtime For Hitler.” Which is understandable, since It’s hard to imagine who is going to make the distribution leap.

    While “God Bless America” is fearless in its misanthropy and violent satire–it’s rants are first rate stand up material– dramatically the movie struggles to convince. Joel Murphy (Mad Men) plays a divorced sad sack with a brain tumor who decides to go on a cross country shooting spree, killing Americans (and in particular, celebrities) who casually indulge in meanness and rudeness. Along the way he picks up a teenage Bonnie (Tara Lynn Barr) to his antisocial Clyde. Their targets are broad, the violence unabashed (an opening scene involving an infant will keep most distributors at bay) and while some of the jokes hit hard others seem hopelessly dated (Mary Kay LeTournieu?). The movie is also, inevitably, hypocritical the same way Oliver Stone’s “Natural Born Killers” was – indulging in the very inhumanity and callousness it seems to decry. While cinematic wish fulfillment can be fun it’s hard to make a deeper point when you’re killing teenagers for making noise during a movie. It’ll be fascinating to see if Goldthwait’s movie finds a home. The Canadian crowd ate up every anti-American morsel so maybe there’s hope. For my own taste, Ben Elton did a better job of tackling many of the same topics in his novel and stage play “Popcorn.”

  15. K2
    Posted February 13, 2012 at 4:49 pm | Permalink

    Do you think that FDR American Bad Ass will be better than Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter?


  16. A fan
    Posted February 28, 2012 at 8:08 pm | Permalink

    And now another kid has shot three kids at a high school in Ohio. This isn’t art and it’s not on my ‘go’ list.

  17. Eel
    Posted April 5, 2012 at 11:58 am | Permalink

    Bobcat did an Ask Me Anything on Reddit last night. It’s good.


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