Rating: R (language including crude sexual references throughout, drug use)
Length: 77 minutes
Release Date: June 7, 2013
Directed by: Paul Middleditch
Stars: 3.5 out of 5
The day that so many Christians knew would come has arrived in the form of the rapture, a day where true believers ascend to heaven, leaving nonbelievers on Earth to fend for themselves. Having a less-crowded planet might seem like a great idea, but the Earth portrayed in “Rapture-Palooza” is one full of wraiths, blood rainstorms, human-like locusts, the occasional zombie, and other problems. It isn’t exactly an ideal world, but many people, like married couple Lindsey (Anna Kendrick) and Ben (John Francis Daly), find a way to deal with all of it.
At first, Lindsey and Ben are fairly apathetic about the rapture, sitting in their quaint suburban house watching TV and dreaming of starting a sandwich cart to pass out food to their fellow heathens. When they finally get the cart up and running, it helps them avoid getting bogged down in tough everyday activities like not getting killed by a wraith or not crashing their cars when the blood rain makes it impossible to see out of the windshield. Some of their loved ones, like Ben’s dad Mr. House (Rob Corddry) get fed up with constantly having to survive this hell-on-earth and decide to align themselves with the anti-Christ himself, here known as Beast (Craig Robinson). The world is so weary that even the wraiths decide they don’t want to do their jobs anymore, opting to smoke pot all day rather than have to spend the entire afternoon pursuing people to kill.
One day, Beast destroys the sandwich cart that has been one of the only sources of joy for Lindsey and Ben. This snaps them out of their somewhat apathetic state and makes them want to take on Beast. They begin trying to get information on him, which backfires when Beast starts to like the attention and takes a romantic interest in Lindsey. In order to dodge his advances and marriage proposals, the couple has to come up with a plan to fight Beast and banish him from Earth. If they are lucky, this might just have the added bonus of easing up the burden of day-to-day life in a post-rapture world.
Apocalyptic movies in the past have taken on many scenarios about what exactly it is that will bring on the apocalypse. Zombies, a quickly mutating supervirus with no cure, a meteorite, and even nuclear war have all been featured in films as a reason for the world to end, to good and entertaining effect. The rapture is another possible reason for the end of days, but it is often treated in a very dark, dramatic way. “Rapture-Palooza” does the exact opposite, focusing on the rapture and making it funny. Since the rapture is mostly thought of as a religious event, trying to make light of it could conceivably ruffle some feathers, but the film deftly avoids controversy by not taking itself too seriously and being downright funny. Credit for this has to go to Chris Matheson, who wrote the screenplay.
Anna Kendrick received an Academy Award nomination for her part in the very dramatic “Up in the Air” and came to prominence in the “Twilight” films, which had very little in the way of comic relief. Since then, she has tackled many comedic roles, seemingly in an effort to show that she could handle a genre other than high drama. If that is her plan, she is succeeding wildly with her turns in films like “Pitch Perfect” and now “Rapture-Palooza.” She flexes her acting muscles as Lindsey, a doomed woman who is so nice and helpful that one has to wonder exactly why she wasn’t one of the chosen ones who got to go to Heaven. She and her husband clearly don’t belong on Earth with the heathens who got left behind, so the audience quickly gets behind the character thanks to Kendrick’s very likable character.
There are a ton of short cameos in “Rapture-Palooza,” (watch trailer) some of which bring out some of the best gags and one-liners in the entire film. Chief among the cameos is one by Ken Jeong of “The Hangover” fame, who is his usual hilarious self in his short stint. Another memorable appearance is from John Michael Higgins as Lindsay’s father, who is pretty much the opposite of Ben’s slightly deranged dad. It’s clear that some really top-notch actors really wanted to get in on the irreverent fun of “Rapture-Palooza,” so they were willing to take small roles. These small parts, when combined with the winning combination of Kendrick and Daly, form an irresistible comedy treat that sets itself apart from all other apocalyptic movies.