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God Bless Bobcat Goldthwait



Maybe it's because crackheads broke into my truck last night (and stole nothing) or maybe I'm just getting old and crotchety, but if you ask me there is a large percentage of today's society who could use a stern talking to. And by "talking to" I mean a bullet to the head.

Of course, two wrongs don't make a right so rather than come out shooting, bitter old bastards like me will have to escape into the dreamy world of cinema to fulfill our genocidal fantasies and this week God Bless America opens in Vancouver for just that purpose. (These weird, smaller films never make it to our local screens because there are usually only a limited number of prints available and they know there aren't enough freaks in the small towns to make these kinds of flicks profitable.)

God Bless America is written/directed by Bobcat Goldthwait (World's Greatest Dad) and tells the story of Frank (played by Joel Murray, a middle-aged dude who's divorced, jobless and finds out he's probably also terminally ill. Frank almost kills himself but opts to instead embark on a murderous rampage, beginning with the stupidest, most intolerant people he can find: reality TV stars.

Egged on by Roxy, a high school girl with a shared disgust for most of American society, Frank ends up taking things a bit too far. Or does he? God Bless America is like that classic Michael Douglas flick, Falling Down, but way more violent and "out there" (a.k.a. – stepped up for a bitter generation that grew up with awesome movies like Falling Down.)

The social critique is not subtle — Goldthwait has basically written his characters as megaphones of his own views (most of which are bang-on) — but it's not particularly complex either. And while the violence is abrupt, and deadpan-funny, God Bless America shoots at the easy targets and its cultural snipers are never given a script with which to rise above anything more than a revenge fantasy for the pissed off and fed up.

Of course, if you're staring at a repair bill for a destroyed lock mechanism, an escapist kill-'em-all flick might be exactly what the doctor ordered.

Any doctor worth their salt, however, will say laughter is the best medicine (followed closely by dancing) and this week as gothic weirdo-genius Tim Burton revives a supernatural TV soap opera/comedy from the 1960s — Dark Shadows opens on Friday.

Perennial Burton collaborator Johnny Depp stars as Barnabas Collins, a dashing 18th century fellow who breaks a witch's heart and ends up turned into a vampire, chained into a coffin and buried alive. Accidentally dug up in 1972, Barnabas returns to his family manor to discover that... it's 1972. Cue the fish-out-of-water jokes and slightly humorous cheap shots at '70s culture. As he tries to save the family business, and figure out this wacky new world, Barnabas also has to deal with the witch, who's still lurking about (and looking hot.)

Burton films are always visually fantastic and the gloom of vampiric life in the disco era has never looked cooler. The cast is also grade A, but unfortunately the movie is muddy — half violent, half humorous, half sexy and all PG. That's the problem — vampires are all about sex and death, so making a comedy about them without doing service to those basic tenets almost always feels flat. Tim Burton is still a champ, but this one doesn't hold up to his best Depp flicks. In fact, this one bites. Save your money for hollow-tipped ammo to fire at the crackheads.

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