It’s exciting to see Shyamalan on such confident footing once more, all these years later.
The first half hour or so of Bobcat Goldthwait's "God Bless America" promises so much more than the film is finally able to deliver. Here is a film that begins with merciless comic savagery and descends into merely merciless savagery. But wow, what an opening.
It consists of a man watching television, and the television he watches. The man is Frank (Joel Murray, Bill's brother). His head rests uneasily on his sofa as the screams of the wailing baby next door drill through the paper-thin walls. He suffers from migraines. On TV, he sees stupidity and cruelty. The news channels portray an America in decay. Such idiotic plagues as the Westboro Baptist Church are seen picketing veterans' funerals, TV rants are delivered by unhinged commentators, reality TV reduces civilization to the consumption of worthless consumer trash, and Frank stares in pain at the screen.
Of course the Westboro Church isn't mentioned by name, but there's no mistaking its "God Hates Fags" posters. Later in the film, daringly, Goldthwait's script does name names, including Diablo Cody, who Frank despises for having created, in "Juno," a heroine who is actually very much like the one in this movie. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
First, Frank learns from his foul-mouthed doctor that he's dying of an incurable brain tumor. Then at his hateful job (in an office filled with co-workers obsessed with celebrity gossip), he makes a thoughtful gesture and is fired for moronic reasons of political correctness. Then on reality TV he sees a famous teenage brat throw a tantrum because her parents gave her a car but it isn't the one she asked for, an Escalade.