Have you ever watched a movie starring so many people you really like that you find yourself wanting to enjoy the film more than you actually are? That was my experience with Rapture-Palooza, the new post-apocalyptic comedy which premieres in select theaters today but is also available through video on demand services like Vudu.com.
But let’s back up. Director Paul Middleditch’s Rapture-Palooza is the latest film to go looking for laughter at the end of the world, following It’s a Disaster and released ahead of the forthcoming Seth Rogen and his pals team-up This is the End and Simon Pegg and his pals team-up The World’s End. Leading up to the end of 2012, there was a run of films which took an understandably dour approach to the end of the world (see: Another Earth, Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, Melancholia). However, the Mayans and their whole 2012 or bust prediction was wrong, and now in 2013 films are taking a moment to have a bit of a laugh at their expense.
In Rapture-Palooza, Lindsey (Anna Kendrick) and Ben (John Francis Daley) are a couple in love who just happen to be living in the end times. As per the title, the rapture came and the faithful ascended into heaven instantly, body and soul, while those deemed unworthy were left behind (say, isn’t that the name of something really awkward Kirk Cameron was so passionate about?) to deal with the Anti-Christ (Craig Robinson) and various other Book of Revelations-style mayhem. However, like anything else after a while the mayhem becomes the new normal and humans go about their days, having adjusted to the sporadic meteor showers and foul-mouthed locusts and crows raining their hatred down upon God’s un-chosen.
As such, even though it’s right there in the title for its first half Rapture-Palooza is not really a film about the rapture but more a film that happens to be set after the rapture has occurred. This is a similar to how Gareth Edward’s acclaimed 2010 film Monsters is not so much about an alien invasion as it happens to be set after one such invasion has occurred and humanity has adjusted their routines accordingly. Here, Lindsey and Ben are a young couple hoping to start their own sandwich cart business together so they can move out of their respective parents’ houses, and the sporadic meteor showers just happen to be a bit of a hindrance to their plans.
That all changes around 30 minutes in when the real plot kicks in, which involves the lascivious Anti-Christ becoming enamored with Kendrick’s character and Kendrick and Daley’s related efforts to fight back. That’s basically all there is to it, with no real character arcs. Plus, certain story elements you’d think once introduced (like the thing about Kendrick that so entices the Anti-Christ) would become significant are in fact never dealt with. It’s basically a fun premise and a rather thin conflict meant to hang together all the riffing done by the comedy talent on hand.
And there is talent here. Kendrick and Daley are both adept at playing comedy and acquaint themselves well. Kendrick, in particular, elevates some of her material with rather inspired line readings. Daley is rather underserved by the script, but is charming, if maybe a bit too similar to his character from Bones. Robinson, most known for Hot Tub Time Machine and as Darryl on The Office, is usually tolerable in small doses, but he becomes the film’s focal point in its second half and boy will you wish he’d stayed in the background. I’ll just say that his consistent proclamations about his sexual prowess get old.
Just about every single supporting character is a name/face comedy nerds would love. It’s a seemingly endless parade of, “Holy crap, that’s…” reactions. There’s John Michael Higgins and Ana Gasteyer as Kendrick’s bickering parents, Rob Corddry as Daley’s father, and Rob Huebel (Children’s Hospital), Thomas Lennon (Reno 911!), Tyler Labine (the dearly departed Reaper) and Paul Scheer (The League, NTSF:SD:SUV) in assorted supporting roles.
As such, it’s a bit of a shame that the talent does not quite add up to a funnier film. It is funny, for me more so in its first half than its last though others argue the opposite. However, at times it seems like a Funny or Die video stretched out to a full film length and suffering from lack of enough material in Chris Matheson’s script to warrant the increase in running time. There is just not a whole lot to the film, and the climactic sequence is somewhat betrayed by the film’s small budget. With This Is The End coming out next week, Rapture-Palooza is likely destined to come, go, and be found much later through services like Netflix.
That’s Good?: Good performances from most involved, particularly Kendrick, Daley, and Hubel; Very fun first half
That’s Bad?: Robinson’s one-note performance grows old; paper thin plot; Humor runs a little dry; Enjoyment is contingent upon whether or not you like some of the actors who show up and do their usual schtick.
See It – Stream It – Skip It: Stream It if you are a fan of any of the involved actors otherwise skip it.
The Trailer: I feel duty-bound to provide you the opportunity to choose whether or not to watch the trailer, but I strongly advise against it as many of the film’s funniest moments are spoiled.
Rapture-Palooza is rated R for language and has a running length of 84 minutes (though 4-6 of those minutes are credits). You can search for local showings via Fandango. However, it is only getting a limited theatrical release. Look for it through various video on demand services. I personally watched it on Vudu.com, where you can currently watch the first 10 minutes for free.
What do you think? Seen the film and agree/disagree? Have a favorite recent end of the world film I failed to mention? Then shame me publically in our comments section. Do your worst, I dare you! Dare you! No, seriously, leave a comment if you want to.
- The Apocalypse comedy Rapture-Palooza will make you hail Satan (io9.com)
- Movie Review: “Rapture Palooza,” Where’s Kirk Cameron when you need him? (rogersmovienation.com)
- Anna Kendrick Makes A Deal With The Devil In Exclusive ‘Rapture-Palooza’ Clip (moviesblog.mtv.com)