Netflix is awesome. If there’s one thing in this crazy world that we should all be able to agree about, it’s that simple fact. But Netflix isn’t always easy to navigate, and I know I can’t tell you how many times I’ve Googled, “What are the best movies streaming on Netflix?” or “Top Netflix movies.” But luckily for you, all of this Googling has helped me find some amazing hidden gems that are available to stream right now. So, to make your life easier and just to give me a chance to tell the world about streaming movies that more people should be watching, Audiences Everywhere is starting a Netflix Hidden Gems series.
In honor of the beginning of this series, I’m reviewing one of my favorite films on Netflix streaming, God Bless America.
God Bless America
Director/Writer: Bobcat Goldthwait
Genre: Dark comedy, satire
Darko Entertainment, Jerkschool Productions
Premise: When Frank, a down-on-his-luck man who believes the world has fallen into an increasingly grim state, receives a terminal diagnosis, he decides to buy a gun and go on a rampage, taking as many of the world’s most problematic people out with him as he goes.
Watch if you like: Witty dialogue, satire, dark humor, violence, etc.
I don’t want to say too much about this movie’s plot because it wouldn’t be fair to give it away. Here’s what I’ll tell you: Frank — with the help of Roxy, a rebellious and disenchanted teen — kills a lot of people. The two unlikely pals kill those who they feel deserve it. Spoiled reality stars, people who talk during movies, people who are just downright rude… The list goes on. It is gory and violent, bloody and somehow, thanks largely to the actors and the writing, quite charming.
I’ve always been conflicted on whether or not I truly enjoy this film or not. It’s dark, brutal, and all kinds of twisted, so enjoy has never really been the right word for how God Bless America makes me feel. It would be more accurate to say that it makes me think. It’s a film that forces me to look at the world from a perspective that I normally wouldn’t even consider. It makes me question the society that I live in.
Some of the film’s strongest dialogue is delivered by Joel Murray as Frank, the main character. In one intense scene, Frank basically sums up his views on humanity with this great speech:
“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?”
What indeed? Are we vile and ungrateful and terribly undeserving of the world we live in? Are we in some sort of dramatic downward spiral? If God Bless America has anything to say about it, then we certainly are. I still don’t know what I believe, but I know that by turning everything up a notch and raising the stakes, Bobcat Goldthwait made me think, and there’s a lot to be said for any filmmaker who can do that.
As a director, Goldthwait is interesting. He makes choices that don’t seem obvious. He shoots from angles that one wouldn’t expect. But it’s through his writing that he really shines. God Bless America’s script is pure gold. The writing is as sharp and clever as you’re going to find anywhere in filmmaking today. Goldthwait has the impressive ability to create characters that talk like they’re from a totally different, eloquent, raw, painfully honest planet, yet still feel realistic and relatable.
Without strong characters, God Bless America would have been a soulless bloodbath, but because the two leads, Joel Murray and Tara Lynne Barr, deliver their lines with such ease and yes, even warmth, God Bless America becomes a bloodbath with heart, if such a thing exists.
God Bless America isn’t a film for everyone. Even as I write this piece, I know that. But if you’re searching for a quality film that’s streaming on Netflix right now that will make you think and question things, then God Bless America is the film for you. It is, without a doubt, one of Netflix’s most entertaining hidden gems.