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Video/Q&A: 'God Bless America' writer-director Bobcat Goldthwait

(Lenny Gilmore/RedEye )
May 07, 2012|Matt Pais | RedEye movie critic

Bobcat Goldthwait’s kidding when he says he won’t reveal where he lives, suggesting his new movie “God Bless America” will “have a lot of people showing up to kill me.”

But behind all jokes, as they say, lies truth.

The 49-year old writer-director (who confirms he lives in Los Angeles) will have many people up in arms with his film, which opens May 11. In it, Frank (Wilmette native Joel Murray of “The Artist” and “Mad Men”) decides against suicide in favor of going out to kill people he believes are responsible for making society rude and stupid. That includes the teenage subject of a “My Super Sweet 16”-esque TV show, people who talk during movies, and others who aren’t doing physical harm to anyone but almost everyone would agree are obnoxious irritants.

At the Peninsula Hotel, the veteran comedian perhaps best known, to his apparent chagrin, for his work in “Police Academy” sequels talked about being inspired by elephant farts, appreciating the Black Eyed Peas and if he’s the equivalent of “an old guy” screaming, “Get off my lawn!”

Note: The filmmaker’s voice isn’t anywhere close to the squeaky character he developed in his earlier days (and recently retired), which you can see by watching video of this interview above.

Why did you want to make “God Bless America”? Was there one pop culture item that sent you over the edge?
It was a bunch of incidents. It was my own television viewing habits. There’s a scene in the movie where Frank is watching TV—I don’t think people understand that Frank is watching TV just because the baby next door is screaming. That he just keeps the television on. He’s looking for a distraction. There’s a scene where there’s a commercial for a ringtone and it’s a pig farting. But in real life there’s a real commercial and it’s an elephant that farts. I didn’t change anything. It’s the same style of animation. So I’m sitting there with my wife and this pig—I mean, an elephant comes out; sorry, I don’t want to upset any of the pig population. This elephant comes out, blows a fart at me. I took it personal; I really did. It was just like [makes farting noise] and it was like, “This is the funniest ringtone ever! Text “F-A-R-T!” And I looked at my wife, and neither of us was very amused, and I just looked at her and I was like, “Let’s just get some guns and start …” So I wrote this screenplay as a gift to her. Of course I’m not advocating violence. Sometimes when I’m ego-surfing and I read comments about the movie [online], it’s like, “You’re just killing someone because they text in a movie? Why don’t you kill rapists?” Frank should have just done a, “Hey, any of you kids, are you rapers? All right, I’m going to shoot the rapers.”

You previously made the comment that in movies you get to make the world that you want versus the way that the world is. How does that apply to this? Because you say you’re not advocating violence, so what aspect of this is—
[Laughs.] The world I want? That’s a good question. I wonder what it is with me on this one. I think sometimes people will accuse me of being an old guy [being] almost, “Get off my lawn! You kids with your texting and your Interwebs!” with this movie. Maybe some of that is true. Maybe as much as I may be denying it to myself, maybe that’s the world where I have a little more of a voice. Although it sounds very trite, I wish people were nice.

If you could snap your fingers and get rid of one of the offenders you feel like are increasing stupidity, what would it be?
MTV. Everybody has a right to watch this crap. But I just think encouraging girls to get pregnant is really irresponsible. [Laughs.] “Jersey Shore.” “My Super Sweet 16.” If MTV went away, I don’t think suddenly we would evolve [laughs] giant, enormous brains. I don’t think it’s holding us back. But I also think, I know it’s not aimed at me, at all, but I think that’s probably off-hand one of the bigger offenders.

What else were you watching before writing the movie?
Well, you know sometimes people will say these references are dated. And it is dated because I did make a decision a few years ago saying, “I’m out, man.” Occasionally I’ll have a slip and I might watch “RuPaul’s Drag Race” or something. But for the most part I am out on the reality shows. If I’m reading anything on the Internet and it clicks to TMZ, I intentionally [deprive them of] even my one little tiny hit, you know what I mean? That’s how I make a difference.

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