May 01 2012
When I saw the trailer for God Bless America a couple months ago, I thought I’d been incepted. The entire package echoed sentiments I’ve been carrying around for years, and somebody did my job for me by data-dumping them all into one blood-drenched movie. YES.
You can imagine how pumped I was to hear GBA was available on tor—I mean, on iTunes. And after going through all the appropriate procedures of legally procuring said film, I realized something. I was kind of excited. I mean, I get excited about older movies that pile on the nostalgia sometimes, but I’ve been pretty cynical about contemporary media lately. Ironic since I’m part of it, I guess.
But personal biases aside, I think I can objectively say this movie is awesome, and here’s your first spoiler alert: I’m giving it 5 out of 5 stars. I’ve parsed this review out into specific things that sealed the deal for me. Let’s do this thing.
[Note: I haven’t read any reviews on this movie. Yet.]
The satirical version of America
It’s actually almost terrifying how similar God Bless America’s…um, America is to the one we live in. The Bill O’Reilly-esque political pundit; the recurring American Idol-esque competition; the cringe-worthy My Super-Sweet 16-esque reality show segments; the “bowling on steroids” commercial. I could go on and on. It’s a heightened version of our own society/reality, and it highlights the very worst our culture has to offer in the homo sapien department. But it’s not really that much of an exaggeration.
The spot-on office environment
Again, this movie highlights the worst aspects of corporate environments—from the eye-gougingly frustrating office politics to the shallow, ignorant, regurgitated banter of sheeple coworkers. In fact, even though Frank’s venomous diatribe is on the long side, it’s hard to argue with what he has to say; the dialogue is articulate as it is clever. Which is fine by me, since I’ve shared similar ponderings for years. I’m telling you, incepted.
[Note: To be clear, I’m not saying every office is as soul-crushing as this; I'm perfectly happy in the cubicle corral of my day-to-day. But if you’ve ever worked in an office environment, you’ll recognize some degree of these interactions.]
The preachy monologues
This is essentially my only gripe about the entire movie, and it’s a small one. Some of Frank and Roxy’s exchanges get a little preachy, and even if their arguments are valid (I personally think most of them are), it kind of takes away from the movie’s forward momentum. Case in point: Roxy’s rant on Alice Cooper. It’s kind of a funny rant, but a) I know little to nothing about Alice Cooper, so the context was lost on me anyway, b) I might have enjoyed it more in article-form, and c) it just came out of nowhere that in the year 2012, an American teenager was psychotically obsessed with Alice Cooper.
The incredible script
Obviously my aspirations make me a bit biased, but I truly appreciate it when gifted writers get their due. Down in Chinatown I’ve seen street vendors that sell official-looking movie scripts for $15 or $20 each. I’ve never bought one because I’m not a tourist or an idiot, but I might if I saw GBA on the top of the pile. Here are a few choice quotes that really struck a chord with me:
Frank: I wish I was a super-genius inventor and could come up with a way to make a telephone into an explosive device that was triggered by the American Superstarz voting number. The battery could explode and leave a mark on the face, so I could know who to avoid talking to before they even talked.
Frank: [after finishing shooting practice] You did a good job.
Roxy: I have a good coach. That and I was pretending the targets were the cast of Glee.
Frank: They couldn’t possibly pander any harder or be more commercially mainstream, because this is the “Oh no, you didn’t say that!” generation, where a shocking comment has more weight than the truth. No one has any shame anymore, and we’re supposed to celebrate it. I saw a woman throw a used tampon at another woman last night on network television, a network that bills itself as “Today’s Woman’s Channel.” Kids beat each other blind and post it on Youtube. I mean, do you remember when eating rats and maggots on Survivor was shocking? It all seems so quaint now. I’m sure the girls from “2 Girls 1 Cup” are gonna have their own dating show on VH-1 any day now. I mean, why have a civilization anymore if we no longer are interested in being civilized?
Frank: [On the air] My name is Frank. That’s not important. The important question is: who are you? America has become a cruel and vicious place. We reward the shallowest, the dumbest, the meanest and the loudest. We no longer have any common sense of decency. No sense of shame. There is no right and wrong. The worst qualities in people are looked up to and celebrated. Lying and spreading fear is fine as long as you make money doing it. We’ve become a nation of slogan-saying, bile-spewing hatemongers. We’ve lost our kindness. We’ve lost our soul. What have we become? We take the weakest in our society, we hold them up to be ridiculed, laughed at for our sport and entertainment. Laughed at to the point, where they would literally rather kill themselves than live with us anymore.
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