Bobcat Goldthwait’s God Bless America premiered last Friday at Toronto’s Ryerson theater as part of the Toronto International Film Festival, and according to the L.A. Times, the audience was thrilled to watch disgruntled Everypeople Joel Murray (Bill’s brother) and Tara Lynne Barr burn a streak of murder, mayhem and anti-pop culture rants across the lower 48. On the other hand, the opening sequence of the pitch black comedy does feature a fantasy sequence in which an infant is blown away by a shot gun so, you know, the audience may be a self-selecting group.
“I see a lot of doom and gloom documentaries for this job, but God Bless America may be the one film this year that has me most worried for my future, unborn children.” Christopher Campbell of Movies.com writes, adding, “If you have any complaints about current American culture, this is a comedy for you. That probably means it’s a comedy for everyone.” Twitch’s Kurt Halfyard writes, “Now one might criticize a movie denigrating 21st century America for its loss of empathy, dignity and kindness, by making a film a vulgar and facile - shooting fish (or babies) in a barrel - as God Bless America. But if Oliver Stone got away with it in the late 1990s with Natural Born Killers, I am on board to let the guy from Police Academy II pander mightily to me with 90 minutes of manifesto-style monologuing and mayhem.” Says /Film’s Peter Sciretta, “The film is a hilariously passionate rant which has somehow been adapted into a narrative storyline. It might not work as a piece of great filmmaking, but it definitely works as great entertainment and a passionate takedown of contemporary pop and political culture.” Of course, the person supposedly most surprised by people’s positive reaction was Goldthwait himself. “I really did think this could be my Springtime For Hitler,” he told the L.A. Times after watching the audience’s enthusiastic response. “I hadn’t shown it even to my friends. I was really shocked that people were behind what he was saying.”