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Bobcat Goldthwait on God Bless America | Interview

The God Bless America director vents his frustrations.
By Ben Kenigsberg |

Comedian Bobcat Goldthwait has already directed warmhearted comedies about bestiality (Sleeping Dogs Lie) and autoerotic asphyxiation (World’s Greatest Dad). But God Bless America is offensive enough to make those movies look like Pat Boone routines. Joel Murray (Mad Men’s Freddy Rumsen) stars as a dying man who goes on a killing spree with a teenager (Tara Lynne Barr), taking his rage out on everyone from reality-TV stars to people who text in movie theaters. It’s unclear what he thinks about viewers who opt for VOD, the platform on which God Bless America will be available Friday 6. We met with the scally cap–sporting filmmaker, 49, at the Peninsula Hotel.

As Fox News might put it, why does Bobcat Goldthwait hate America?
[Laughs] Obviously I don’t hate America. I do believe that we are becoming—and I can only judge it by my lifetime, ’cause I don’t know what it was like in the 1800s—but it just seems that as a nation, we are becoming really, really nasty, and not concerned with any kind of truth. [The movie] starts out with a guy who’s really frustrated and fed up. And he has his rules he lives by, and he kind of wishes the rest of the world would live by. But as the movie proceeds, Frank actually realizes that he is a human, and he can’t even live up to these things that he’s accusing other people of. Because he does find himself attracted to this young kid, you know? And to me that’s the subtext of the movie. That we’re all guilty and that we’re all human. That sounds pretty pretentious coming from me. Quite often, I think about things I say in interviews, and I just wanna go, “Dude, you were in Hot to Trot. [Laughs] You were in Police Academy.”

Would it be accurate to say this film was born out of your frustrations?
It wasn’t like, I’m just gonna write a laundry list of everybody I dislike. The real germ was, I was watching Bonnie and Clyde and I thought, Well, this movie was not about the real Bonnie and Clyde; what were they really capturing here? Counterculture was really frustrated with authority figures, so it was a very fun movie where authority figures get killed. So I thought, What’s the equivalent? And I think we’re really frustrated with ourselves, you know? So that’s why I kind of pointed the guns at us.

Are there any aspects of recent pop culture that you like?
[Laughs] Yeah! I mean, the Muppet movie! I thought it was great, it was sincere, it wasn’t snarky, it had a lot of passion. It was really true to the spirit of the Muppets that I grew up with. I don’t read or watch anything that has to do with Lindsay Lohan. It’s like secondhand smoke. You get secondhand nonversationsnonversations is what my wife calls them.

You’ve said this visit isn’t technically part of your press tour for God Bless America.
This is not my hotel room. I’m actually performing in Peoria last night and tonight. I[’ll] go back to my chain Quality Hotel in Peoria. That’s a really good example of my life. I come in here, I get to be a pretentious hotshot indie filmmaker, but the reality of it is, I’m playing a comedy club next to a strip club and a dirt track.

God Bless America comes to VOD Friday 6.

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