God Bless America

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
God Bless America Movie Poster Image
Very dark, angry comedy about the media and its effects.
  • R
  • 2012
  • 105 minutes

Parents say

age 15+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 15+
Based on 5 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

In a world where everyone is obsessed with reality TV celebrities and vulgar, extreme content, God Bless America suggests that violently exterminating the worst offenders is a good (and funny) idea. The violence has little or no consequences, and it's shown to be a much more appealing alternative than the characters' normal lives.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The main character utterly fails in his attempts to be a good person and succumbs to depression, anxiety (as well as a potential brain tumor), and suicidal thoughts. He's redeemed not by anything good but by the urge to murder everyone who annoys him. His companion could have been a strong female, but instead she's a somewhat sexualized teen girl who also shoots and kills people.

Violence

The movie begins with its most disturbing image: The main character imagines shooting both a crying baby (off screen) and the baby's father, leaving the mother screaming and covered in blood. There are several other violent, bloody killings as well, mostly with guns. In the finale, the characters shoot everyone on stage, as well as the audience members of an American Idol-type show. There's also a general undercurrent of anger and hate, especially when the characters watch TV news and reality shows.

Sex

Plenty of sexual innuendo and some disturbing sexual tension between the two main characters; the man is in his late 40s, and the girl is in her late teens. She shows sexual interest in him, but he rebuffs her. No sex or nudity. On a reality TV show, a woman reaches under her dress, removes a tampon, and throws it at another woman.

Language

Very strong language throughout, including "f--k," "s--t," "balls," "p---y," "suck it," "c--k," "a--holes," "oh my God," "t-ts," "goddamn," "c--t," "whore," "queef," "c--ksucker," the "N" word, and "motherf----r." Characters hold signs that say "God Hates Fags."

Consumerism

Though the movie is very much anti-consumerism, it mentions many real brands, as well as spoofs of real brands: Escalade, iPhone, BlackBerry, Disneyland, Glee, and Rambo. There's an American Idol spoof and spoofs of other reality shows and TV ads.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

The main character, a teen girl, is seen smoking a cigarette in one scene. The main character smokes cigarettes and drinks beer occasionally. There are drug references, but no drugs are shown.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that God Bless America is a dark, dark comedy from Bobcat Goldthwait, the maker of World's Greatest Dad. The movie takes an angry stance against the media for its extreme vulgarity and stupidity -- but its "solution" is violence and killing. There are violent, gory slayings, especially in the opening few minutes, when the main character imagines killing a family (including a crying baby). Language is very strong and constant, with just about every swear word imaginable. There's also strong sexual innuendo and uncomfortable sexual tension between the two main characters, a late-40s man and a late-teen girl, though no sex. Both characters smoke cigarettes, the man drinks beer, and there are drug references. And though the movie is anti-consumerist, it has lots of references to real brands as well as spoofs of brands and fake TV ads.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byFractal Gloom July 5, 2012

Everybody Should Watch This Movie

I think this movie sets a great example for teens, maybe not so much the violence, but the way of thinking. Frank is a very inspiring person who is simply fed u... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written bybobob September 2, 2012

Good movie, but I felt bad watching it

Even though this movie is funny and sometimes thoughtful, the language and violence in the movie made me feel this movie was a guilty pleasure. I felt like I ha... Continue reading
Written byAnonymous August 2, 2013

Effective, politically charged satire

This is probably one of my favorite films that I don't talk to other people about. It is very violent and appears to disregard its own immorality. I choose... Continue reading

What's the story?

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.

Is it any good?

This movie has the courage of its convictions all the way up to the closing credits. Bobcat Goldthwait, who achieved fame in the 1980s with his stand-up comedy and his roles in the Police Academy movies, has 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. It's a movie for anyone who 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, Murray -- briefly seen as a policeman in The Artist -- brings a wry, touching quality to his role in God Bless America. 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.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about God Bless America's violence. Why would a character react so strongly to the media and its effects? Is this reaction out of proportion?

  • Is the movie angry, or funny, or both? How does this qualify as a "black comedy"? Does the movie offer any real solutions?

  • The movie depicts the media as mean, vulgar, violent, and "extreme." How close is this to the actual media of today? How is it different?

Movie details

For kids who love offbeat movies

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