"God Bless America" Dark Comedic Fun!


Dark comedies don't get much darker (or funnier) than 2012's "God Bless America".  Written and directed by 80s comedian Bobcat Goldthwait, who's last directed Robin Williams a few years ago in another dark comedy called "World's Greatest Dad".

In "God Bless America" middle-aged everyman Frank (played by Joel Murray) is fed with society becoming meaner and meaner.  Kids have developed such a sense of entitlement and self-centered greed that the future of human decency looks bleak.  Parents aren't any better as they have stopped being "parents" to their kids.  Reality shows, cable news, and rewarding human stupidity are rotting a society from the inside out.  Frank is divorced and lives in a cheap apartment with loud and inconsiderate young neighbors whose baby cries at all hours.  Lying in bed one night he has a seriously demented fantasy that I sure most people have had at one time or another.  Frank works in a generic office building with annoyingly stupid co-workers and mind numbing work.  While showing basic human kindness to the receptionist he is fired for "harassing" her.  To top it all off his recent headaches have been caused by a brain tumor.  At the end of his rope with life and society, he contemplates suicide.  While watching a reality show about a spoiled brat named Chloe he decides that she needs to die more.  He stakes out her high school and while doing this meets a kindred soul in the form of a teen girl named Roxy (played by Tara Lynne Barr).  Frank and Roxy are a great duo but are strictly platonic friends as Frank is a very moral person who thinks people have lost their basic decency and respect for others.  This being said they start off on a road trip killing mean people along the way.

Obviously, this movie was made before the tragic movie theatre shooting in Colorado, so when Frank and Roxy start killing obnoxious and rude theatergoers it makes this movie all the more darker.  The most disturbing part is that your cheering them on while they do it all while thinking this is soooooo wrong.  Frank and Roxy are extremely likable and relatable. They have great chemistry and are sort of like a Bonnie and Clyde.  This movie does take place in a sort of fantasy world and could very well all be taking place in Frank's head or in a dream.  Like a lot of comedies the less you really think about it the better. 

This movie is extremely satirical and sarcastic and is not for everyone.  If you like your comedies like your coffee (black and bitter) you'll love "God Bless America"  It is now out on DVD and Blu-Ray and currently available through Netflix Watch Instantly.

The Summer of Swinton "We Need to Talk About Kevin"

"We Need to Talk About Kevin"

In the final review of the Summer of Swinton tribute to actress Tilda Swinton we arrive at the 2011 film "We Need to Talk About Kevin".  Like most all of Swinton's films, this drama packs a powerful and brutal emotional punch.  This was also the third feature film by critically acclaimed Scottish director Lynn Ramsay who's previous films were "Ratcatcher" and "Morvern Callar"

Swinton plays Eva Khatchadourian a wife, mother, author and world traveler.  Her husband Franklin is played by the extremely versatile John C. Reilly, who is more or less relegated to the supportive husband role but still turns in a great performance.  Since the story is told over the course of their son Kevin's life, Kevin is played by three different actors.  Mostly disturbingly by Ezra Miller as the teenage version.  This movie is about the relationship between a mother and son.  It is about Eva's need for freedom and to never be tied down.  It's also a classic case of nature versus nurture as there are many difficult questions raised by what happens.

The story is told in a non-linear format which seamlessly jumps back and forth in time in the lives of Eva, Franklin, Kevin, and their younger daughter Celia.  We start with the aftermath of an "event" and Eva being a local pariah, openly being slapped in the face and called names in public.  We flash back to an earlier time in her life and her relationship with Franklin and her pregnancy with Kevin.  After he is born Eva and Kevin have a hard time bonding.  Even as an infant and a toddler he openly antagonized her and makes her life a living hell.  He seems to gets along just fine with his father and he even throws that into her face.  After not starting to talk until very late, Kevin is taken to a doctor and he checks out just fine.  Is he not talking on purpose just to spite Eva?  Through the years Kevin gets even more violent and manipulative, then to a point of just plain sadism. 

"We Need to Talk About Kevin" is a drama that ends up playing like a psychological horror movie reminiscent of "The Omen".  Although done in an extremely real and down to earth way.  From birth, Kevin is a soulless being who's only mission in life is to torment his mother (sound like your kids?), who when she became pregnant wasn't sure she wanted him to begin with.  Did Kevin pick up on these negative vibes in the womb?  That would be quite the grudge.  Is this a big message for the pro-choice people?  Tilda Swinton puts forth a remarkable performance that earned her a Golden Globe nom for Best Actress.  She also won many other accolades and nominations for her role as Eva. "Kevin" is now out on DVD from Oscilloscope Films and I highly recommend picking it up!