Filmmakers You Should Know: Bobcat Goldthwait, Expert Craftsman of Savage Black Comedy
"World's Greatest Dad" (2009)
Goldthwait's next effort as writer-director brought him a larger budget and star power in the form of his pal Robin Williams. As struggling writer and depressed high school teacher Lance, Williams landed his most audacious role in years, mainly because he was sustained by such a discomfiting scenario: When Lance's obnoxious son accidentally kills himself while masturbating, Lance fakes the late teen's suicide note and turns him into a posthumous celebrity. The teacher runs with his trick as far as he can before facing the shadow of immorality chasing him at every turn. Although technically a very black comedy, "World's Greatest Dad" never loses its disarmingly light touch, a paradox at the root of the movie's appeal. Goldthwait once again wrestles with the problematic drive for fame and the way it can hinder one's perception of reality, then lets it all crash down in a memorable slo-mo sequence that finds Williams in his birthday suit -- Goldthwait's visual cue that the self-made emperor has no clothes.
"God Bless America" (2011)
The filmmaker's disdain for America's narcissistic culture reaches a fever pitch with this lively "Bonnie and Clyde" update that finds Joel Murray playing a disgruntled office drone eventually driven to kill off reality television stars with the assistance of an equally batty 16-year-old girl (Tara Lynne Barr). Goldthwait writes some of his best monologues in years for his loony leading man, but while "God Bless America" rants about society's downward slide into a media-fueled oblivion -- it's Goldthwait's "Idiocracy" -- the movie also serves as a bold indictment of pop culture's destructive potential, and a catharsis for anyone willing to confess that beneath the Murray character's blatantly psychotic beavhior, his targets are spot-on.