God Bless America

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GOD BLESS AMERICA—-pardon the long lead-in….my Dad worked for States Marine Isthmian (a maritime shipping organization, now kaput). His best friend worked for Standard Oil. They’d get together, have a few (cough...few ?) belts and complain about their jobs.  Essentially country boys caught up in the Gray Flannel Suit world, they would tease each other about their respective employers but would leave pointed bashing of the outfits to the one who worked for it. “You can badmouth ‘the company’, but you don’t let an outsider do it” was the unspoken law of Bitching.  Shifting from the Corporate to the National (uh, is there a difference anymore?) let your humble reviewer announce that I feel free to whack away at American wrongs because I love the country, still, and it hurts to see things headed to Hell in a cellphone.  I know enough about history that when someone from another former empire starts with the “you Americans” finger-poking  I’ll put up with some bile but when it gets too dickish I may just remind them how crummy their own misdeeds stack up. Free passes are for the innocent and the unicorns they flew in on.

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What’s that diatribe have to do with this superblack 2012 comedy? Much as one might love the good old USA, you’d have to be a real, live, genuine moron not to see how f—-d-up it is, crammed full of obnoxious idiots everywhere you turn.  Fed up?  Harbor secret get-even fantasies?  Let this 105-minute movie do it for you–in the guise of polite, worn-down, middle-aged ‘Frank’ (Joel Murray), who begins to even the score, one loudmouthed jerk at a time.

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Parking lot punks, screaming talk-show charlatans, hateful religious shills, reality-star witches, oafs who talk out loud in theaters during the movie—Frank goes on a spree, and it’s not with pencil lead. He’s joined by 16-year old happy demon ‘Roxy’ (Tara Lynne Barr) and their romantic but platonic road to purification and renown (they’re on TV!–isn’t that the Grail?) is strewn with deserving sleazeballs who finally, at long last, are made to shut the hell up.

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Duh, guns are terminal, but it’s hard to argue they don’t serve a purpose.  A knockoff of a disastrous 1998 British comedy, Parting Shots *, this howl of outrage is written & directed by Bobcat Goldthwait.  It will either have you gleeful with laugh-out-loud catharsis (moi ) or huffy with distress over tastelessness (how fun you must be, Saint Nowhere). Murray is another brother of Bill, the youngest of nine Murrays—and his deadpan underplaying is terrific. He channels our collective anguish over discourse as swill.  Spunky newcomer Barr is not bad. Predictably, the movie drew mixed reviews, and did zip business in its few art-house showings–a grand total of $123,000.  Good bet for future cult status.  And, yes, my blood pressure is fine, thanks for asking….

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With Mackenzie Brooke Smith, Melinda Page Hamilton, Larry Miller.

*Slaughtered by critics as one of the worst movies ever made in Britain, Parting Shots was the last blast from controversial director Michael Winner. It starred Chris Rea, backed by John Cleese, Oliver Reed, Diana Rigg, Bob Hoskins and Ben Kingsley!

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